Elstracke, Renold (DNB00)

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ELSTRACKE, RENOLD (RENTER) (fl. 1590–1630), engraver, long accepted as one of the earliest native engravers in England, is uaually stated to have been born in London about 1590. It seems, however, almost certain that he was a member of a well-to-do family, resident in the town of Hasselt in Belgium, and he may be possibly identified with a certain Renier, son of Gonthier von Elstracke, known to be living in 1613, but apparently not in his native country. He was in all probabtlity a pupil of Crispin van de Passe the elder at Cologne, and came to England at the same time and under the same circumstances as the younger members of the Van de Passe family [q. v.] His style of engraving has very much in common with that of those artists, and similarly his engravings are more valued for their rarity than for their artistic excellence. They are extremely interesting, as they portray many of the most important persons of the day. His chief production was the set of engravings of the kings of England, published in 1618 by Henry Holland [q. v.], and sold by Compton Holland under the title of 'Basilioilogia; a Booke of Kings, beeing the true and lively Effigies of all our English kings from the Conquest untill this present, with their severall coats of Armes, Impreses, and Devises! And a briefe Chronologie of their lives and deaths, elegantly graven in Copper.' This set consists of thirty-two portraits and a title-page containing portraits of James I and Anne of Denmark. This title-page, with different portraits, was used for the Earl of Monmouth's translation of Biondi's 'History of the Civil Wars.' The plates were subsequently used for 'Florus Anglicus, or Lives of the Kings of England,' and again for William Martyn's 'Historie and Lives of the Kings of England.' In both these cases they have letterpress at the back, and are in a very much worn condition. One of the rarest of Elstracke's engravings, and the most highly prized by collectors, is the double whole-length portrait of Mary Queen of Scots and Henry, lord Darnley; an impression of this was sold in 1824 in the collection of Sir Mark Sykes for 81 l. 18s.; the same print was sold at the dispersal of the Stowe Granger … in 1849 (when a great number of Elstracke's engravings were disposed of) for 33l. 10s., and in March 1884, at the sale of the Dent collection, was purchased for the British Museum at a cost of 150l. Among other rare engravings by Elstracke were similar portraits of Frederick V, elector palatine, and Princess Elizabeth (Dent sale, 23l.), and James I of England and Anne of Denmark (Dent sale, 23l.) A portrait of Sir Richard Whittington was first engraved by Elstracke with the hand resting on a skull, which was subsequently altered to a cat; in its original state it is extremely rare. Among other notabilities whose portraits were engraved by Elstracke were: Gervase Babington, bishop of Worcester, Sir Julius Cæsar, Sir Thomas More, Thomas Sutton, founder of the Charterhouse, Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, John, lord Harington of Exton, Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, Robert Carr, earl of Somerset, and his wife, Sir Thomas Overbury, Matthew Hutton, archbishop of York, Tobias Matthew, archbishop of York, and others. He also engraved numerous frontispieces. A print of James I sitting in parliament is dated 1624, and there is a similar print of Charles I ascribed to Elstracke, in which case he must have lived on into the reign of the latter king. It is not known when he died.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; Siret's Journal des Beaux-Arts, 1867, 1868; Catalogues of the Sutherland and Morrison collections; sale catalogues mentioned above.]

L. C.