Wenceslaus Hollar

Prague Girl

Prague Girl by Wenceslaus Hollar

Artwork Detail

A quick glance at these prints gives us some idea of the extraordinary variety of dress found in Europe about Hollar’s time, even among communities in close proximity to one another. Hollar recognised the significance of distinctive regional costumes and rather than depicting landscapes, his Reisbuchlein (Little Travel Book) of 1636 shows only distinctly attired men and women. Looking closely at this series, we see that Hollar has carefully differentiated between women dressed for different seasons and times in their lives. For instance, the Mulier Argentiensis (Woman of Strasbourg) wears a fur-lined jacket with full sleeves and a large ruff about her neck. While her unwed sister, Virgo Argentiensis, goes without the sleeves and ruff but coyly holds two ribbons to advertise her availability. Social status is also demonstrated through particular types of costume and each subject is carefully labelled in order to establish her place in the class system. Work on Aula Veneris began in 1642 and the series was first published in London in 1644. This set of 36 plates (plus title page) dates from an edition of 1816 and illustrates the enduring appeal of Hollar’s work, even many years after his death.

Prague Girl
Wenceslaus Hollar
Production date
etching and engraving
92 x 62 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Accession no
Other ID
1811 Pennington Catalogue Raisonné
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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