Hieronymus Cock

Hieronymus Cock
Hieronymus Cock.jpg
Portrait of Hieronymus Cock by Johannes Wierix
Born1518 (1518)
DiedOctober 1570 (aged 51–52)
Known forPainting, printmaking, printing

Hieronymus Cock, or Hieronymus Wellens de Cock (1518 – 3 October 1570) was a Flemish painter and etcher as well as a publisher and distributor of prints.[1] Cock is regarded as one of the most important print publishers of his time in northern Europe. His publishing house played a key role in the transformation of printmaking from an activity of individual artists and craftsmen into an industry based on division of labour.[2] His house published more than 1,100 prints between 1548 and his death in 1570, a vast number by earlier standards.[3]

While far more important and influential as a publisher, Cock was also an artist of talent, as seen in his last series of 12 landscape etchings of 1558, which are somewhat in the fantastic style of the paintings of his brother Matthys Cock. Altogether he etched 62 plates.[4]


Hieronymus Cock was born into an artistic family. His father Jan Wellens de Cock and his brother Matthys Cock were both painters and draftsmen.[1] He was admitted as a master painter in the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in 1545.[5] He resided in Rome from 1546 to 1547. When he returned to Antwerp in 1547, he married Volcxken Diericx. Together with his wife he founded in 1548 the publishing house Aux quatre vents or In de Vier Winden (the "House of the Four Winds"). The publishing house issued its first prints in 1548. The majority of Cock's prints were made after paintings or designs purposely made for him by artists from the Low Countries such as Frans Floris, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Lambert Lombard, Maarten van Heemskerck and Hieronymus Bosch as well as architectural and ornament designs by Cornelis Floris and Hans Vredeman de Vries.[2]

Ruins of the Baths of Diocletian , c. 1550, by Hieronymus Cock from set of Roman Ruins

Cock employed some of the best engravers of his time such as Johannes Wierix, Adriaen Collaert, Philip Galle, Cornelis Cort and the Italian Giorgio Ghisi.[6]

In 1559 and 1561 he published two series of landscape prints by an anonymous Flemish draughtsman now referred to as the Master of the Small Landscapes. The series of landscapes were drawn from nature in the vicinity of Antwerp and had an important influence on the development of Flemish and Dutch realist landscape art.[7]

Quatre Vents

The publishing house Aux Quatre Vents played an important role in the spread of the Italian High Renaissance throughout northern Europe as Cock published prints made by prominent engravers such as Giorgio Ghisi, Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert and Cornelis Cort after the work of leading Italian painters like Raphael, Primaticcio, Bronzino, Giulio Romano and Andrea del Sarto. The Italian historian of architecture Vincenzo Scamozzi copied many of the engravings published by Cock in 1551 for his volume on Rome entitled 'Discorsi sopra L'antichita di Roma' (Venice: Ziletti, 1583).[8]

Cock collaborated with the Spanish cartographer Diego Gutiérrez on a 1562 Map of America.[9]

Hieronymus Cock collaborated with Antwerp architect and designer Cornelis Floris de Vriendt in the publishing of Cornelis Floris' designs for monuments and ornaments: the ‘’Veelderley niewe inuentien van antycksche sepultueren’’ (‘The many new designs of antique sculptures') was published in 1557 and the ‘’Veelderley veranderinghe van grotissen’’ (‘Many varieties of grotesques’) in 1556. The publication of these books contributed to the spread of the so-called Floris style throughout the Netherlands.[10]

The Dutch publisher Philip Galle worked at Cock's printing house from 1557 and succeeded him in 1570.

Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris effigies

The Cock couple standing in the doorways of their workshop under the sign of "IIII vens" in a 1560 print

At his death in 1570 Cock left behind the most prominent print publishing establishment in Europe north of the Alps.[11] His widow Volcxken continued the publishing house until her death in 1601.[1] In 1572 she published a book by Dominicus Lampsonius called Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris effigies (literal translation: Effigies of some celebrated painters of Lower Germany), a set of 23 engraved portraits of artists with short verses in Latin printed below them. Hieronymus Cock had been working on this publication at the time of his death. The quality of the 23 prints was outstanding as they had been made by some of the leading engravers of the time such as Johannes Wierix, Adriaen Collaert and Cornelis Cort.[12]

The artists included in the book were (in the order in which they appear in the book): Hubert van Eyck, Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, Rogier van der Weyden, Dirk Bouts, Bernard van Orley, Jan Mabuse, Joachim Patinir, Quentin Matsys, Lucas van Leyden, Jan van Amstel, Joos van Cleve, Matthys Cock, Herri met de Bles, Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Jan van Scorel, Lambert Lombard, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Willem Key, Lucas Gassel, Frans Floris and ending with Hieronymus Cock.[13] The book includes a poem by Lampsonius dedicated to the memory of Hieronymus Cock and applauding the work of his widow.[13] The portraits and texts present an honour roll of the earlier generations of Netherlandish artists. Their publication thus contributed to the formation of a canon of famous Netherlandish painters, which was well underway even before Karel van Mander published in 1604 his biographies of early and contemporary Netherlandish artists in his Schilder-boeck.[14]

The publisher Hendrik Hondius I published in 1610 a book with almost the same title ('Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipué Germaniæ Inferioris', in English: 'Effigies of some celebrated painters, chiefly of Lower Germany') that contained 69 engraved portraits of painters. Hondius' work included in its first part reworked versions of 22 of the portraits of the 1572 publication. The portrait of Hieronymus Cock (often numbered 23) was not included by Hondius maybe because the likeness was made after death, rather than drawn "ad vivum" (after the living model) as was the case for the other portraits.[15]


Cock's work is held in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa,[16] the British Museum,[8] the Portland Art Museum,[17] the University of Michigan Museum of Art,[18] the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[19] the Philadelphia Museum of Art,[20] the Fralin Museum of Art,[21] the Princeton University Art Museum,[22] the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen,[23] the Saint Louis Art Museum,[24] and the Michael C. Carlos Museum.[25]


  1. ^ a b c Hieronymus Cock at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (in Dutch)
  2. ^ a b Hans Devisscher and Timothy Riggs. "Hieronymus Cock." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 15 Jun. 2014
  3. ^ Riggs, 102
  4. ^ Riggs, 102-103
  5. ^ Ph. Rombouts and Th. van Lerius, De liggeren en andere historische archieven der Antwerpsche sint Lucasgilde Volume 1, Antwerp, 1864, p. 156 (in Dutch)
  6. ^ The engravings of Giorgio Ghisi introduction and entries by Suzanne Boorsch ; catalogue raisonné by Michal and R.E. Lewis, Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications, 1984, p. 18
  7. ^ Larry Silver, Peasant Scenes and Landscapes. The Rise of Pictorial Genres in the Antwerp Art Market. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006
  8. ^ a b Praecipua aliquot Romanae Antiquitatis Ruinarum Monimenta at the British Museum
  9. ^ Diego Gutiérrez at the Library of Congress' website
  10. ^ Carl Van de Velde. "Cornelis Floris II." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 25 June. 2014
  11. ^ Riggs, Timothy A. "Hieronymus Cock. Printmaker and Publisher", PhD dissertation, Yale University 1971, published in the series Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts, Garland Publishers, New York / London, 1977.
  12. ^ Joanna Woodall, Dem dry bones. Portrayal in print after the death of the original model
  13. ^ a b Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris printed in 1572 at the Courtauld Institute of Art
  14. ^ Jeffrey Chipps Smith, 'Historians of Northern European Art: From Johann Neudörfer and Karel van Mander to the Rembrandt Research Project', in: Babette Bohn, James M. Saslow, A Companion to Renaissance and Baroque Art, John Wiley & Sons, 2 Jan, 2012, p. 509
  15. ^ Portrait of Hieronymus Cock in the effigies, Courtauld Institute of Art
  16. ^ "Loading... | Collections Online - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa". collections.tepapa.govt.nz. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  17. ^ "Hieronymus Cock". portlandartmuseum.us. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  18. ^ "Exchange: Landscapes with Biblical and Mythological Scenes: The Flight into Egypt, NO. 4 o". exchange.umma.umich.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  19. ^ "https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/artist/hieronymus-cock/". www.metmuseum.org. Retrieved 2021-03-12. External link in |title= (help)
  20. ^ "Philadelphia Museum of Art - Collections Object : Hearing". www.philamuseum.org. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  21. ^ "Hieronymous Cock: Artist Objects".
  22. ^ "Hieronymus Cock | Princeton University Art Museum". artmuseum.princeton.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  23. ^ "Hieronymus Cock". Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  24. ^ "Prudence, from the "Set of the Seven Virtues"". Saint Louis Art Museum. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  25. ^ "Works – Hieronymus Cock – Artists – Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University". collections.carlos.emory.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-12.

External links

Media files used on this page

View of an imaginary street with the Four Winds, by Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum after Hans Vredeman de Vries, 1560. Inscriptions: Laet de Cock coken om tvolckx wille and IIII vens
Ruins of Baths of Diocletian LACMA 61.18.jpg

Flanders, 1550
Series: The Set of Roman Ruins
Prints; etchings
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Sabersky (61.18)
Prints and Drawings