To have been born with a singular talent, which he exercised with industry which permitted neither interval nor repose, for the course of more than forty years—to have passed a long life in adversity, without the errors to which many men of genius have owed it—and to end that life in the destitution of common comforts, merely from the insufficient emoluments of a profession, and with a strictly moral character—such was the fate of Hollar! After a narrative of his labours, and of the injustice he sustained, we shall commiserate him, as having "fallen on evil men and evil days." Yet, of no engraver of that age is the posthumous fame greater, or the value of his works enhanced to so high a degree.
He was born at Prague in 1607. His family were of the higher order of gentry, by patent from the Kings of Bohemia, and upon account of their attachment to the Protestant religion had suffered very greatly in their fortune. Wenceslaus was intended by his father for the profession of the law, and was initiated into its preparatory studies. After the battle and siege of Prague, in 1619, the ruin of his family was completed by confiscation; and he had to depend for future maintenance solely upon a dexterity which he had very early shown, in the use of his pen and pencil. He adopted and excelled in a style best suited to chorography, or delineations of cities and places, between mapping and drawing, which was novel and popular. His first residence was at Frankfort, where he received instructions of Mathew Merian, the well-known engraver, from whom he learned to finish plates, from celebrated pictures. At eighteen years of age (1625) he published his first prints of a Madonna and an Ecce Homo. He travelled through Germany, employing himself in taking views of the chief towns, and sketches from the paintings in the best collections, during several years. In 1636, Thomas, Earl of Arundel, then upon his embassy to the Emperor Ferdinand II.____________________