MATHAM, Jacob
(b. 1571, Haarlem, d. 1631, Haarlem)

Samson and Delilah

c. 1613
Copperplate engraving, 380 x 440 mm
Rockox House, Antwerp

Jacob Matham was an engraver in Antwerp, his copper engraving of Rubens' Samson and Delilah deserves mention. Rubens' original painting hung in the Great Parlour of Rockox's house. Matham dedicated his engraving to Rockox, his friend and patron.

Rubens from the very early on set about looking for copperplate engravers able to submerge themselves in his style and to reproduce the effects of his brushwork. As Cornelis Galle's style was rather dry, Rubens turned to the engravers of the Goltzius school, Pieter Soutman, Willem Swanenburgh, Egbert van Panderen, Andriesz Stock and Jacob Matham. He supervised their work and directed the commercial exploitation of the business himself. The plates were made from monochromes specially prepared by him or his collaborators.

Lucas Vorsterman engraved about fourteen prints which represent the acme of Rubensian art in black and white. But at the end of two years, Rubens quarrelled with Vorsterman who even went so far as to threaten to kill him. Vorsterman was succeeded by his pupil Paulus Pontius, who accentuated the colourist tendency of his craft.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 10 minutes):
Camille Saint-Saens: Samson et Delila, Delila's aria