Thomas de Leu

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Charles III de Bourbon, engraving by Thomas de Leu
Antoine Caron, engraving by Thomas de Leu

Thomas de Leu or Leeuw or Le Leup or Deleu (1560–1612)[1] was a French engraver,[citation needed] publisher, and print dealer of Flemish origin.


He was the son of a print dealer in Oudenaarde and began his career in Antwerp, where he worked for Jean Ditmar (c. 1538–1603)[2] and was influenced by the Wierix.[3]

Sometime after 1576 and before 1580 he went to Paris[4] to work for the painter and engraver Jean Rabel (1540/50–1603).[2]

In 1583 he married Marie Caron, daughter of Antoine Caron,[2] one of the principal painters of the Second School of Fontainebleau. Although it has been stated that he was thereby the brother-in-law of the engraver Léonard Gaultier, this is probably not the case.[5]

In the Wars of Religion he managed to switch from the side of the Catholic League to that of Henry IV. As a result, he became enormously wealthy, running a highly productive workshop and publishing numerous prints by other artists. His apprentices included Jacques Honnervogt (fl 1608–1635) and Melchior Tavernier (c. 1564–1641).[2]

In 1605 he married Charlotte Bothereau.[2] His daughter Charlotte married Claude Vignon.[6] He died in Paris.[2]


Sir Francis Drake, engraving by Thomas de Leu after Jean Rabel

His first dated engraving is Justice (1579; Linzeler no. 57).[2] He produced more than 300 plates of portraiture, including one of Catherine de' Medici (Linzeler no. 255), and many engravings on religious subjects, such as Christ in Blessing (1598; Linzeler no. 7)[2] and a set of 25 plates depicting The Life of Saint Francis.[3] He also provided illustrations for books.[2]

As one of the most important engravers of his time, de Leu's pieces are highly sought. Other famous subjects include Claude de Sainctes, Jacques of Savoy, several plants for Mattias de Lobel's Plantarum Seu Stirpium Icones, Sir Francis Drake, and de Leu himself.[citation needed]

Of the engravings from the period, the plate for his self-portrait is by far the most sought-after, as only a few prints of the portrait exist, likely given as gifts to family members and close friends originally, and the existence of the plate has apparently never been acknowledged. Many enthusiasts of sixteenth-century engraving have speculated as to where the plate is, and in such circles questions of its location/ownership can go on for hours, generating wild conspiracy stories and even hypotheses about now-unknown printing methods used by De Leu.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Exact years of birth and death are from Benezit 2006; Grivel 1996b gives "(c. 1555–c. 1612)".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Grivel 1996b.
  3. ^ a b Benezit 2006.
  4. ^ Benezit 2006 says "after 1576"; Grivel 1996b, "before 1580."
  5. ^ Grivel 1996a.
  6. ^ Bassani 1996.

Cited sources

  • Bassani, Paola Pacht (1996). "Vignon, Claude" in Turner 1996, vol. 32, pp. 509–510.
  • Benezit (2006). "Leu, Thomas de", vol. 8, p. 915, in Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Paris: Gründ. ISBN 9782700030709.
  • Grivel, Marianne (1996a). "Gaultier, Léonard" in Turner 1996, vol. 12, pp. 203–204.
  • Grivel, Marianne (1996b). "Leu, Thomas de" in Turner 1996, vol. 19, p. 257.
  • Turner, Jane, editor (1996). The Dictionary of Art, reprinted with minor corrections in 1998. New York: Grove. ISBN 9781884446009.

Other sources

  • Grivel, Marianne (1986). Le Commerce de l'estampe à Paris au XVIIe siècle. Geneva: Droze. Listings at WorldCat.
  • Linzeler, André; Aldhémar, Jean (1932–1938). Inventaire du fonds français: graveurs du seizième siècle. Paris: Maurice Le Garrec. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale. Listings at WorldCat.

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