VISSCHER, Cornelis de (1629-1670); [Ada COUNTESS REGNANT OF HOLLAND (c.1188-1234/37, portrait of)]
Ada, Theoderici VII et Adelheidis Filia [Ada, daughter of Dirk VII and Adelaide]
Haarlem: circa 1658. Engraving. Printed on laid paper. Collector's mark on verso of sheet. In excellent condition. Image size: 15 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches. Sheet size: 20 3/4 x 14 1/8 inches. Plate mark: 16 x 11 3/4 inches.
This striking engraving comes from a series of portraits executed by Cornelis de Visscher, one of the greatest seventeenth century Dutch engravers.
Visscher was born in Haarlem between 1628 and 1629, and remained in the city for his whole life. He studied the art of engraving from Pieter Soutman one of the most celebrated printmakers of the Dutch School. In 1653 he entered the Haarlem guild and earned a reputation as a talented and precise engraver. A prolific printmaker, Visscher published maps and charts as well as decorative plates, but it is for his lovingly etched portraits that he is best remembered. This handsome portrait is a superb example of his considerable skill. Ada's life as the Countess of Holland in the early 13th century exemplifies the challenges faced by women in positions of power throughout history. As the only surviving daughter of Count Dirk VII of Holland and Adelaide of Cleves, Ada inherited her father's title. However, her uncle William I quickly contested her right to rule, setting the stage for a tumultuous period in Holland's history. To strengthen her position, Ada married Count Louis II of Loon. This strategic union caused scandal, particularly as it took place even before her father's burial. The tension between Ada and her uncle erupted into the Loon War, which lasted from 1203 to 1206. Unfortunately, Ada was captured by William's supporters and imprisoned in various locations, including in England. However, her resilience and determination allowed her to regain her freedom in 1206, and she and Louis returned to Loon. Their rule was brief, as Emperor Otto IV declared that William had a stronger claim to the title of Count of Holland in 1208. The lines of Latin verse below the portrait is in the first person, giving voice to Ada to tell her own story of following her father's footsteps, fighting with leaders alongside her husband Louis, and to emphasize her experience as a foemina or "woman." From the collection of Frederic R. Halsey, a famous New York print collector who was active during the latter part of the 19th century.
Benezit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs; Lugt, Les Marques de Collections 1308.