Sometimes a post on this blog is part of a series. Some posts discuss a particular theme from a number of perspectives. Legal iconography is one of these recurring themes. Sometimes I can choose at will from my list of interesting subjects, but this time a post on a well-known blog prompted me to start writing about legal portraits. On my website I deal with legal portraits to some extent on the page for digital image collections. I realized that in order to tackle a question in that recent post concerning the erased name of a lawyer in an engraving, my list of image databases with legal portraits might be helpful indeed to find out whose portrait you are looking at, and in finding legal portraits at all.
A missing name
At In Custodia Legis, the blog of the law librarians of the Library of Congress, Nathan Dorn published on October 19, 2012, a post called The Faces of Renaissance Law. Dorn wrote about the recent acquisition by the Library of Congress Law Library of two rare sixteenth-century Italian books with images of medieval and Renaissance lawyers, Illustrium Virorum Iureconsultor[um] imagines (…), by Marco Mantova Benavides (1489-1582), printed by Bolognino Zaltieri (Venice, 1570), and Imagines quarundam principium, et illustrium virorum (Venice: Bolognino Zaltieri and Niccolo Valegio, 1569). Five of the six lawyers in the pictures from these books shown in Dorn’s post can be identified immediately by the text engraved below in the images, but in the sixth image a part of this text with the name of a lawyer has been erased. The remaining text, “floruit Roberti regis Sicilie temporibus quem patrem legum uocat Ancharanus” says he lived in the times of king Robert of Sicily who Ancharanus called his father of laws. Pietro d’Ancarano (around 1330-1416) seems to be referring to Robert’s support of the University of Naples.
It is one thing to find a portrait of lawyers in the past, but another thing to identify somebody correctly as in this case. On my website I mention a number of portrait databases and websites of museums with a large portrait gallery, but here the question was clearly a bit different. How to find a digital version of this book when the Library of Congress states this book is very rare? This assertion was easily to be proved, with one qualification: one can find other editions of this book, but they contain different images. Mike Widener, curator of rare books at the Lilian Goldman Law Library (Yale University, has created a Flickr gallery of the images in the edition Rome 1566 of this book. He gives Antoine Lafréry as the author of this book, not Benavides, who was the collector of the 26 images in the first edition. Widener discusses these portraits and other portraits in a number of posts for the Rare Books Blog of Yale Law Library. In the edition of 1566 our lawyer has not been portrayed.
Instead of plodding along all roads and byways I took to find the missing name I had rather tell you where and how to find a solution for the question about the book at the Library of Congress. One of the portrait databases presented on my website contains indeed all images from later editions. The Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett (The Virtual Engravings Cabinet), a project of the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, the Herzog-Anton-Ulrich-Museum at Braunschweig and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, gives lots of information on the image in question. The man portrayed is Riccardo Malombra, born in Cremona between 1259 and 1264. He died in 1334. For information on him one can turn to the article written by Andrea Labardi in 2007 for the Dizionario Bibliografico Italiano which can be consulted online, too. The missing text in the book at Washington, D.C. is “Ricardus Malumbra Cremonensis”. The date of the edition at Wolfenbüttel is given as between 1567 and 1570, and when you compare it with the copy at Washington, D.C., you can spot indeed some differences, for example the number of the engraving given here in the corner below right.
Finding legal portraits
With more than 4,000 images the Legal Portraits Online collection of Harvard Law Library certainly is an important and often exclusively mentioned resource, but it is surely possible and useful to look elsewhere, too. To start with Mike Widener, he has also digitized for Flickr 36 portraits from the book by Lodovico Vedriani, Dottori Modonesi (..) (Modena 1665) with professors from the university of Modena, a number of portraits showing Hugo Grotius, and finally a few dozen scattered portraits of lawyers.
A first indication that it is indeed interesting to look not only at the image results of the average online search machine, is the very fact of finding Italian images in a German library. In fact a number of German projects seem to cater for a lot of questions which transcend national borders. The Frankesche Stiftungen at Halle an der Saale, an institution with a rich history in eighteenth-century German pietism, has a fine portrait database where you can find lawyers among the professions indicated (enter “Jurist” in the Berufe field). The Fotoarchiv at Marburg has created a Digitaler Porträtindex where you can search in the same way for portraits in the collections of eight German cultural institutions. The Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur, the main image project at Marburg, too, can be used in this way. When doing my search for the name in this particular image I was surprised to find that the Deutsche Fotothek, a project at Dresden, does not only contain photographs, but also drawings, engravings and paintings. My surprise was even greater, because this database brought me at first to the image of Riccardo Malumbra discussed here. Thus the database of the Deutsche Fotothek leads you to images and data also present at the Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett. However, at the website of that project you can use also Iconclass, a Dutch systematic classification of subjects in art. Last year the death of Friedrich Carl von Savigny in 1861 was commemorated in particular with the publication of a volume with fifty contemporary portraits of this German legal scholar.
This post started with a question concerning an Italian lawyer. It is always possible to find Italian portraits using the general gateways to art history. Nowadays Art.Historicum.net is one of the most useful portals for art history. Combined with the overview of online database of ArtGuide (Heidelberg and Dresden) and the fine list of links maintained by the RKD (see below) you will surely find many portraits. However, it is really worthwhile to check the 10,000 portraits in the FACIES database of the Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio in Bologna. Even when you got to acknowledge the relatively small number of lawyers in it, this database does connect them to other resources as well.
Speaking of Dutch projects, the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) at the Hague has a number of online databases. Among them is RKD Portraits. Here, too, you can search for particular professions. Lawyers can be tracked down by using in the first general search field the Dutch term jurist. Utrecht University has coupled its online database of historic professors with the fine painting gallery in its holdings, and provides links to other databases as well. The image database of the former Dutch Institute for Legal Iconography with some 12,000 images, which used to be accessible only for subscribers at this link of the Dutch Royal Library, has been recently integrated at The Memory of The Netherlands portal. The University of Amsterdam has created a digital portrait gallery with paintings collected for this university and its forerunner since 1743. The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a digital image collection with some 1,500 images for the history of Protestantism, including many portraits.
For American history, too, one can look beyond Harvard’s Legal Portraits Online. The Smithsonian Institution at Washington, D.C., has an online database for its National Portrait Gallery. Incidentally, for English history one should of course turn to its namesake in London with over 160,000 images. The New York Public Library has created Historic and Public Figures: A General Portrait File to the 1920’s with some 30,000 photographs. Cornell University has an online collection of political Americana which goes even a step further, from an image database to the uses of images in campaigning and publicity. For American women in legal professions the information – including images – at the Women’s Legal History portal of Stanford University is invaluable. Libraries and Archives Canada provide for Canada an image portal with a generous selection from Canadian holdings.
Looking for Dutch lawyers
When you want to find a portrait of Hugo Grotius you will easily find useful results. When preparing this post I realized that the proof of the pudding for the image databases mentioned here is to find a portrait of a less well-known lawyer. For convenience’s sake and for my own interest I started looking for an image of a portrait of Nicolaas Everaerts (latinized Nicolaus Everardi) (around 1462-1532). No contemporary portraits of him exist. Because of the variant spellings of his name (e.g. Everhardi, or his first name as Nicolaes) finding images of this lawyer who became the head of the Great Council at Malines, the highest court of the Habsburgian Low Countries, is not so easy.
Harvard’s Legal Portraits Online comes here into its own with two images. I have never seen the image at the left elsewhere. To be honest, its execution is a bit clumsy, and the older engraving was clearly the model for it, although inverted. Its dimensions are quite small (57 x 43 mm), and the original source is not given. The older image is not as easily found as I suspected it would be. The Europeana portal helped me in getting more details, but some questions remain. In which work did Aubertus Miraeus (1573-1640) use the engraving by Philip Galle (1537-1612)? The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has almost all these details on this engraving. The engraving comes from Miraeus’ Illustrium Galliae Belgicae scriptorum icones et elogia (Antverpiae 1604), a series of 52 portraits of Dutch and Belgian authors. Again, it is from the perspective of art history that you will find here an answer.
When I created my webpage with links concerning digital image collections and legal iconography I often doubted the value of the links belonging to the realm of art history, but I have become convinced that you might need them indeed. A search strategy for legal portraits can be sketched at least in outline: start with the resources dedicated to legal portraits, continue with general portrait galleries and general photo galleries, and switch to resources for art history when the other ways bring no results. On my webpage I point also to digital heritage portals and to other specific resources for images which relate to the vast fields of legal history. National image portals are also often helpful, as are the websites of institutions in the field of women’s history. In my experience it is sound advice to look also at the image collections of major museums – here the Rijksmuseum – and to take the searching order indicated here as a guideline only. By changing the sequence of links to be visited you might in specific cases get quicker and more relevant results. Sometimes results come from unexpected corners: for example, the Château de Versailles has a fine collection of portrait engravings in its image database. I wish you good hunting!
Germany takes quite some space here already, but it is possible to add some online German portrait databases. The Tripota – Trierer Porträtdatenbank (Universität Trier) contains more than 8,000 portrait images, mainly from the collections of the Stadtbibliothek Trier. The links section of this website gives an excellent overview of digital portrait collections worldwide. In the Regensburger Porträtgalerie (Universität Regensburg) you will find some 5,000 portraits from the collections of the princes of Thurn und Taxis. The European aristocracy is well represented here.
Utrecht University contributes to the new website Academische Collecties a catalogue with some 1,800 images – paintings, drawings and photographs – of professors. At the same website you will find some 500 portraits from the collections of the Universiteit van Amsterdam.