Wallerant Vaillant. Portrait of Pieter Blaeu (1637-1706)
Vaillant is best known as the first professional mezzotint-engraver, a technique he helped develop, but he was also a portrait painter. After training with Jan Erasmus Quellinus in Antwerp, he spent most of his career in Amsterdam, painting the likes of Jan Six and the Dutch Golden Age painter Maria van Oosterwijck. Pieter Blaeu was the son of the cartographer and publisher Johannes Blaeu – and grandson of the even more celebrated Willem – who was sent from the Netherlands to Italy to develop the firm’s business. The result was a multi-volume atlas of Italian monuments and towns, and the establishment of Blaeu as a kind of cultural mediator between the two countries. Antonio Magliabechi, librarian to the Medici court, described him as ‘polite, beautiful and very intelligent’.