Thomas de Leu

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Charles III de Bourbon, engraving by Thomas de Leu KarlIIIvonBourbon01.jpg
Charles III de Bourbon, engraving by Thomas de Leu
Antoine Caron, engraving by Thomas de Leu De-Leu-Thomas-1599-Antoine-Caron.jpg
Antoine Caron, engraving by Thomas de Leu

Thomas de Leu or Leeuw or Le Leup or Deleu (1560–1612) [1] was a French engraver, publisher, and print dealer of Flemish origin.

Flemish variety of the Dutch language as spoken in Flanders (Belgium)

Flemish (Vlaams) also called Flemish Dutch (Vlaams-Nederlands), Belgian Dutch, or Southern Dutch (Zuid-Nederlands), is a Lower Franconian / Dutch dialect. It is spoken in the whole northern region of Belgium as well as French Flanders and the Dutch Zeelandic Flanders by approximately 6.5 million people. The term is used in at least five ways. These are:

  1. as an indication of Dutch written and spoken in Flanders including the Dutch standard language as well as the non-standardized dialects, including intermediate languages between dialect and standard. Some linguists avoid the term Flemish in this context and prefer the designation Belgian-Dutch or South-Dutch.
  2. as a synonym for the so-called intermediate language in Flanders region, the Tussentaal.
  3. as an indication for the non-standardized dialects and regiolects of Flanders region.
  4. as an indication of the non-standardized dialects of only the former County of Flanders, ie the current provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders, Zeelandic Flanders and Frans-Vlaanderen.
  5. as an indication of the non-standardized West Flemish dialects of the province of West Flanders, the Dutch Zeelandic Flanders and French Frans-Vlaanderen.



He was the son of a print dealer in Oudenaarde and began his career in Antwerp, where he worked for Jean Ditmar (c. 1538–1603) [2] and was influenced by the Wierix. [3]

Oudenaarde Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Oudenaarde is a Belgian municipality in the Flemish province of East Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Oudenaarde proper and the towns of Bevere, Edelare, Eine, Ename, Heurne, Leupegem, Mater, Melden, Mullem, Nederename, Welden, Volkegem and a part of Ooike.

Antwerp Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders. With a population of 520,504, it is the most populous city proper in Belgium, and with 1,200,000 the second largest metropolitan region after Brussels.

Wierix family family of engravers from the Southern Netherlands

The Wierix family, sometimes seen in alternative spellings such as Wiericx, were a Flemish family of artists who distinguished themselves as printmakers and draughtsmen in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. They were active in Antwerp and Brussels.

Sometime after 1576 and before 1580 he went to Paris [4] to work for the painter and engraver Jean Rabel (1540/50–1603). [2]

In 1583 he married Marie Caron, daughter of Antoine Caron, [2] one of the principal painters of the Second School of Fontainebleau. Although it has been stated that he was thereby the brother-in-law of the engraver Léonard Gaultier, this is probably not the case. [5]

Antoine Caron French painter

Antoine Caron (1521–1599) was a French master glassmaker, illustrator, Northern Mannerist painter and a product of the School of Fontainebleau.

School of Fontainebleau art movement by artists active at Fontainebleau 1530s-1610

The Ecole de Fontainebleau (c.1530–c.1610) refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered on the royal Palace of Fontainebleau that were crucial in forming the French version of Northern Mannerism.

Léonard Gaultier French engraver

Léonard Gaultier, or, as he sometimes signs himself, Galter, a French engraver, was born at Mainz about 1561, and died in Paris in 1641. His style of work resembles that of Wierix and Crispyn van de Passe. His prints are executed entirely with the graver, with great precision, but in a stiff, formal manner. He must have been very laborious, as the Abbé de Marolles possessed upwards of eight hundred prints by him, many of which were after his own designs. They consist of portraits, and various subjects, of which the following are the most worthy of notice. They are sometimes signed with his name, and sometimes with a cipher GL.

In the Wars of Religion he managed to switch from the side of the Catholic League to that of Henry IV. As a result, he became enormously wealthy, running a highly productive workshop and publishing numerous prints by other artists. His apprentices included Jacques Honnervogt (fl 1608–1635) and Melchior Tavernier (c. 1564–1641). [2]

French Wars of Religion civil infighting from 1562–98

The French Wars of Religion were a prolonged period of war and popular unrest between Roman Catholics and Huguenots in the Kingdom of France between 1562 and 1598. It is estimated that three million people perished in this period from violence, famine, or disease in what is considered the second deadliest religious war in European history.

Catholic League (French) organization

The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Catholics as the Holy League, was a major participant in the French Wars of Religion. Formed by Henry I, Duke of Guise, in 1576, the League intended the eradication of Protestants—mainly Calvinists or Huguenots—out of Catholic France during the Protestant Reformation, as well as the replacement of King Henry III.

Henry IV of France first French monarch of the House of Bourbon

Henry IV, also known by the epithet Good King Henry or Henry the Great, was King of Navarre from 1572 and King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was the first monarch of France from the House of Bourbon, a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. He was assassinated in 1610 by François Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic, and was succeeded by his son Louis XIII.

In 1605 he married Charlotte Bothereau. [2] His daughter Charlotte married Claude Vignon. [6] He died in Paris. [2]

Claude Vignon French painter

Claude Vignon was a French painter, printmaker and illustrator who worked in a wide range of genres. During a period of study in Italy, he became exposed to many new artistic currents, in particular through the works of Caravaggio and his followers, Guercino, Guido Reni and Annibale Caracci. A prolific artist, his work has remained enigmatic, contradictory and hard to define within a single term or style. His mature works are vibrantly coloured, splendidly lit and often extremely expressive. Vignon worked in a fluent technique, resulting in an almost electric brushwork. He particularly excelled in the rendering of textiles, gold and precious stones.


Sir Francis Drake, engraving by Thomas de Leu after Jean Rabel Portrait of Sir Francis Drake Wellcome L0005524.jpg
Sir Francis Drake, engraving by Thomas de Leu after Jean Rabel

His first dated engraving is Justice (1579; Linzeler no. 57). [2] He produced more than 300 plates of portraiture, including one of Catherine de' Medici (Linzeler no. 255), and many engravings on religious subjects, such as Christ in Blessing (1598; Linzeler no. 7) [2] and a set of 25 plates depicting The Life of Saint Francis. [3] He also provided illustrations for books. [2]

As one of the most important engravers of his time, de Leu's pieces are highly sought. Other famous subjects include Claude de Sainctes, Jacques of Savoy, several plants for Mattias de Lobel's Plantarum Seu Stirpium Icones , Sir Francis Drake, and de Leu himself.[ citation needed ]

Of the engravings from the period, the plate for his self-portrait is by far the most sought-after, as only a few prints of the portrait exist, likely given as gifts to family members and close friends originally, and the existence of the plate has apparently never been acknowledged. Many enthusiasts of sixteenth-century engraving have speculated as to where the plate is, and in such circles questions of its location/ownership can go on for hours, generating wild conspiracy stories and even hypotheses about now-unknown printing methods used by De Leu.[ citation needed ]

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  1. Exact years of birth and death are from Benezit 2006; Grivel 1996b gives "(c. 1555–c. 1612)".
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Grivel 1996b.
  3. 1 2 Benezit 2006.
  4. Benezit 2006 says "after 1576"; Grivel 1996b, "before 1580."
  5. Grivel 1996a.
  6. Bassani 1996.

Cited sources

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