Willem Outgertsz Akersloot. Dutch, active 1624-1634
After Adriaen van de Venne. Dutch, 1589-1662
Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange. 1628
Engraving printed in black on paper
Purchased with the gift of Selma Erving, class of 1927
Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau, was a strong
charismatic leader and a figure to be reckoned with. Known as Mooie
Heintje (handsome Harry), Hendrik lost his father, Willem the First
(the silent), at an early age, when Willem was assassinated by the
Spanish. Hendrik was trained in arms by his predecessor and older half
brother, Maurits of Naussau, and eventually became Stadholder or Governor
of the Northern Provinces.
Frederik Hendrik disliked posing for paintings. As a result many likenesses
of him were copied from a 1610 portrait by Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt,
one of the few paintings from an actual sitting. Nonetheless, Frederik
Hendrik was well aware of the importance of visual propaganda as evidenced
by the many portraits depicting him as a heroic military commander
and head of a powerful court.
Allegorical compositions, such as this engraving from 1628, often
showed the figure in battle stance and ornate body armor. They were
clearly meant to impress and inform the masses. Here the prince holds
seven arrows, the symbol of the united seven provinces of the Netherlands
whose individual coats of arms are also attached to the rope he is
holding. He is placed high on a pedestal to emphasize his noble lineage.
The background of the print features the castle Binnenhof in
The Hague where Hendrik resided (and which is presently the seat of
the Dutch government). During his reign Frederik Hendrik transformed
the Dutch court into a lavish and highly cultured society that offered
opportunities for Dutch and foreign artists alike.