Hieronymus Cock

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Hieronymus Cock
Hieronymus Cock.jpg
Portrait of Cock engraved by Jan Wierix
Born 1518
Died 1570 (1571)
Known for Painting, printmaking, printing
Movement Renaissance

Hieronymus Cock, or Hieronymus Wellens de Cock (1518 – 3 October 1570) was a Southern Netherlandish painter and etcher as well as a publisher and distributor of prints.[1] Though he died young, Cock became known as the most important print publisher of his time in northern Europe and his widow Volcxken Diericx played a key role in the transformation of printmaking from an activity of individual artists and craftsmen into an industry based on division of labour.[2] His house published more than 1,100 prints between 1548 and his death in 1570, a vast number by earlier standards.[3]

Although far more important as a publisher, Cock was an artist of talent, best seen in his last series of 12 landscape etchings of 1558, which are somewhat in the fantastic style of the paintings of his brother Matthys Cock. Altogether he etched 62 plates.[4]


The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist, c. 1560, by Hieronymus Cock after Andrea del Sarto

He was born into an artistic family. His father Jan Wellens de Cock and his brother Matthys Cock were both painters and draftsmen.[1] He was admitted to the painters' guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in 1545. He resided in Rome from 1546 to 1547. When he returned to Antwerp in 1547, he married and together with his wife founded their own publishing house in 1548, Aux quatre vents or In de Vier Winden (the "House of the Four Winds"). They issued their first prints there in 1548. The majority of Cock's prints were made after paintings by artists from the Low Countries such as Frans Floris, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Lambert Lombard, Maarten van Heemskerck and Hieronymus Bosch as well as architectural and ornament designs by Cornelis Floris and Hans Vredeman de Vries.[2] In 1559 and 1561 he published two series of landscape prints by an anonymous Flemish draughtsman now referred to as the Master of the Small Landscapes. The series of landscapes were drawn from nature in the vicinity of Antwerp and had an important influence on the development of Flemish and Dutch realist landscape art.[5]

Quatre Vents[edit]

The Cock couple standing in the doorways of their workshop under the sign of "IIII vens" in a 1560 print

The Cocks' enterprise Les Quatre Vents played an important role in the spread of the Italian High Renaissance throughout northern Europe as Cock published prints made by prominent engravers such as Giorgio Ghisi, Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert and Cornelis Cort after the work of leading Italian painters like Raphael, Primaticcio, Bronzino, Giulio Romano and Andrea del Sarto. The Italian historian of architecture Vincenzo Scamozzi copied many of the engravings published by Cock in 1551 for his volume on Rome entitled 'Discorsi sopra L'antichita di Roma' (Venice: Ziletti, 1583).[6]

Cock collaborated with the Spanish cartographer Diego Gutiérrez on a 1562 Map of America.[7]

Hieronymus Cock collaborated with Antwerp architect and designer Cornelis Floris de Vriendt in the publishing of Cornelis Floris' designs for monuments and ornaments: the ‘’Veelderley niewe inuentien van antycksche sepultueren’’ (‘The many new designs of antique sculptures') was published in 1557 and the ‘’Veelderley veranderinghe van grotissen’’ (‘Many varieties of grotesques’) in 1556. The publication of these books contributed to the spread of the so-called Floris style throughout the Netherlands.[8]

The Dutch publisher Philip Galle worked at Cock's printing house from 1557 and succeeded him in 1570.

Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris effigies[edit]

At his death in 1570 he left behind the most prominent print publishing establishment in Europe north of the Alps.[9] His widow Volcxken continued the publishing house until her death in 1601.[1] In 1572 she published a book by Dominicus Lampsonius called Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris effigies (literal translation: Effigies of some celebrated painters of Lower Germany), a set of 23 engraved portraits of artists with short verses in Latin printed below them. Hieronymus Cock had been working on this publication at the time of his death. The quality of the 23 prints was outstanding as they had been made by some of the leading engravers of the time such as Jan Wierix, Adriaen Collaert and Cornelis Cort.[10]

The artists included in the book were (in the order in which they appear in the book): Hubert van Eyck, Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, Rogier van der Weyden, Dirk Bouts, Bernard van Orley, Jan Mabuse, Joachim Patinir, Quentin Matsys, Lucas van Leyden, Jan van Amstel, Joos van Cleve, Matthys Cock, Herri met de Bles, Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Jan van Scorel, Lambert Lombard, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Willem Key, Lucas Gassel, Frans Floris and ending with Hieronymus Cock.[11] The book includes a poem by Lampsonius dedicated to the memory of Hieronymus Cock and applauding the work of his widow.[11] The portraits and texts present an honour roll of the earlier generations of Netherlandish artists. Their publication thus contributed to the formation of a canon of famous Netherlandish painters, which was well underway even before Karel van Mander published in 1604 his biographies of early and contemporary Netherlandish artists in his Schilder-boeck.[12]

The publisher Hendrik Hondius I published in 1610 a book with almost the same title ('Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipué Germaniæ Inferioris', in English: 'Effigies of some celebrated painters, chiefly of Lower Germany') that contained 69 engraved portraits of painters. Hondius' work included in its first part reworked versions of 22 of the portraits of the 1572 publication. The portrait of Hieronymus Cock (often numbered 23) was not included by Hondius maybe because the likeness was made after death, rather than drawn "ad vivum" (after the living model) as was the case for the other portraits.[13]


  1. ^ a b c Hieronymus Cock at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (in Dutch)
  2. ^ a b Hans Devisscher and Timothy Riggs. "Hieronymus Cock." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 15 Jun. 2014
  3. ^ Riggs, 102
  4. ^ Riggs, 102-103
  5. ^ Larry Silver, Peasant Scenes and Landscapes. The Rise of Pictorial Genres in the Antwerp Art Market. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006
  6. ^ Praecipua aliquot Romanae Antiquitatis Ruinarum Monimenta at the British Museum
  7. ^ Diego Gutiérrez at the Library of Congress' website
  8. ^ Carl Van de Velde. "Cornelis Floris II." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 25 June. 2014
  9. ^ Riggs, Timothy A. "Hieronymus Cock. Printmaker and Publisher", PhD dissertation, Yale University 1971, published in the series Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts, Garland Publishers, New York / London, 1977.
  10. ^ Joanna Woodall, Dem dry bones. Portrayal in print after the death of the original model
  11. ^ a b Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris printed in 1572 at the Courtauld Institute of Art
  12. ^ Jeffrey Chipps Smith, 'Historians of Northern European Art: From Johann Neudörfer and Karel van Mander to the Rembrandt Research Project', in: Babette Bohn, James M. Saslow, A Companion to Renaissance and Baroque Art, John Wiley & Sons, 2 Jan, 2012, p. 509
  13. ^ Portrait of Hieronymus Cock in the effigies, Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Riggs, Timothy, in KL Spangeberg (ed), Six Centuries of Master Prints, Cincinnati Art Museum, 1993, no 64, ISBN 0931537150

Further reading[edit]

  • Emily J. Peters, 'Hieronymus Cock's Aux Quatre Vents,' Print Quarterly, XXXI, June 2014, pp. 219–224.

External links[edit]