Wenceslaus Hollar, Winter, an etching

Czech, signed and dated AD 1643

One of four etchings of the Seasons, each represented by a suitably clothed woman

The young woman is warmly dressed against the cold. She wears a number of skirts, a fur collar, a hood, a mask, and she carries a fur muff. She has gathered up her skirts as if to protect them from muddy ground. The gesture carries a tacit erotic message by revealing her lace-trimmed underskirt and dainty shoe. This significance is emphasized by her bold gaze and made explicit by the accompanying verse ('For a smoother skin at night / Embraceth her with more delight').

Hollar had learned etching as a gentlemanly pursuit before, as a Protestant, having to leave Catholic Prague when he was 20. For nine years he worked in various German towns, mostly producing topographical prints and drawings. In 1636 while in Cologne he joined the entourage of the earl of Arundel, with whom he returned to England. In a career of some 50 years he produced almost 3,000 etchings on many subjects, normally with the uncomplicated naturalism which makes them such valuable documents of seventeenth-century life. Cornhill is shown in the background of this print, with its coal fires burning, while the tower of the first Royal Exchange is visible on the right.

Hollar's virtuosity as an etcher is apparent from the variety of fabrics and furs he captures in the woman's garments.

Find in the collection online

More information

Bibliography

A. Griffiths and G. Kesnerova, Wenceslaus Hollar: prints and (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)

A. Griffiths, The print in Stuart Britain, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)

Dimensions

Height: 256.000 mm
Width: 182.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1850-2-23-434 (Pennington 609)

PPA72822

Location

Find in the collection online



Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore