[DRAKE, Sir Francis (1540-1596)] - Thomas DE LEU (c.1555 - c.1612) after Jean RABEL, the elder.
Francisvs Draeck Nobilissimvs Eqves Angliæ AN. ÆT SVE 43
Paris: [circa 1583]. Engraved portrait, oval with surrounding legend and text beneath, on laid paper (6 7/8 x 4 1/4 inches). Cut to just within platemark and inlaid into later wove paper sheet. Later ink inscription on verso reading "from Holland / 1809." Minor wear and soiling. Very good.
A very early engraved portrait of Sir Francis Drake.
A clean impression of the second state of this famous portrait of Sir Francis Drake at age forty-three, shortly after he returned from circumnavigating the globe, the basis for most of the later images of him. The image is taken from a portrait purportedly painted from life by Jean Rabel the Elder and is said to be a credible likeness of the famed navigator. The legend beneath the portrait indicates the dates of Drake's circumnavigation, listing Rabel as the painter and Thomas de Leu as the engraver. Thomas de Leu (1560-1612), a pupil of Rabel's, moved to Paris around 1576 and became one of the most noted portrait engravers of his time. This engraving of Drake was the basis for many later images of him, including the well-known engravings by Jodocus Hondius and Crispin van de Passe. The earliest graphic image of one of the greatest figures in maritime history.
Marianne Grivel, "Au Sieur Rabel, Parangon du la 'pourtraicture'..." in H. Zerner and M. Bayard's RENAISSANCE EN FRANCE (Paris, 2009), pp. 227-92 (2d state).