Jacobus Houbraken apprenticed under his father, Arnold Houbraken (1660-1719. Houbraken’s style was similar to the portrait engravers of the great seventeenth century French school, most notably, Nanteuil, Drevet and Edelinck. He surpassed these masters in his ability to capture textures and tones. The Italian engraver, Raphael Morghen said, “No engraver has ever equaled, and probably will not equal, the Dutchman Jacobus Houbraken, in the manner of imitating the flesh and the hair by means of the graver.” He was sought after by both English and Dutch publishers. His most famous engravings for English publication were those for the historical series, "Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain", published in parts in London between 1734 and 1752. He worked alongside George Vertue, but most of the great portrayals were left to Houbraken, including those of Newton, Pope, Dryden, Shakespeare and Milton. Under the framed portrait of each individual, he designed and engraved the vignettes and objects associated with each person. Jacob Houbraken's most important set of original portrait engravings, the Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain required almost twenty years to complete. The set contains one hundred and eight portraits of British luminaries dating from the 14th to early 18th centuries including Kings, Queens, noblemen, politicians, writers, scientists and philosophers.
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