We are pleased to make available in its entirety, Rylands English MS 883, a book of drawings by the esteemed artist and master etcher Wenceslaus Hollar, 1607-1677. Born in Prague, Hollar’s craft took him to various parts of Europe and he spent many years in England in the employ of Thomas Howard, the 21st Earl of Arundel. Hollar was a prolific worker and there are collections of his work in both the British Museum and in the Royal Collection at Windsor. The University of Toronto also has a significant online collection of prints.
The collection of sketches is fascinating; the pieces are beautifully executed original drawings with the exception of one etching, a portrait of J. Banfi Huniades. The drawings (which do not appear in any particular order) are of various places in Europe, including London, Prague, Amsterdam and Cologne. There are some sketches on loose scraps of paper and a good number that have been stuck onto the leaves of the book. The digital bookreader object of English MS 883 is hosted in our Rylands Collection along with various leaves we already had digitised.
Check out especially the panoramic view of London on folio 24 verso, which includes the outlines of old St Paul’s Cathedral (destroyed in the Great Fire) and the Globe and Rose theatres on the south bank of the Thames.
It is possible that the album once belonged to the diarist John Evelyn. On folio 36 is the inscription: ‘Johannes Euelynus. Ce que j’ai j’ay receive. Vigilentia cum diligentia: 1641‘.
The original volume will be on display in the Faiths section of the Rylands Gallery from 1 April, for approximately six months.