Edelinck, the family name of four engravers.—GERARD, b. in Antwerp c. 1640; d. in Paris, April 2, 1707. Galle instructed him in the rudiments of his art, and from him, in Antwerp, the youth imbibed that vigor and energy characterizing Rubens’ school of engravers, which was later to transform the art in France and impart to it Northern freshness and simplicity. In 1665 Gerard came to Paris, studied with de Poilly, quickly surpassed him, and almost immediately reached the height of his powers, which remained undiminished until his death. Le Brun and Colbert called Louis XIV‘s attention to Edelinck, who received commissions, a pension, the title of engraver to the king, apartments in the Gobelins, and the position of professor in the Gobelins Academy from the monarch whose features he depicted in fourteen engravings. In 1675 he was naturalized; in 1677 he became a Royal Academician; and soon thereafter the order of Chevalier of Saint-Michel was conferred upon him. Edelinck was one of the greatest masters of pure engraving. He never used etching or dry-point on his plates, and of the four hundred that he produced there is not one that is poor or second-rate. Edelinck’s work was epoch-making: he revolutionized engraving, abandoning lines that crossed to form squares for lozenge forms. Further, he massed his lines and changed their direction, thus avoiding the monotony that had marked all previous work in France. Edelinck had all the merits of his predecessors and, besides, rendered texture, color, and light and shade as they never before had been rendered. His strokes were clear and bold, and the results beautifully finished, harmonious, and silvery. His proofs were the first to possess the quality called technically by engravers “color”. Sometimes they were slightly “metallic”. Reproductions on steel by Edelinck frequently suggested more color and quality in the originals than the latter possessed. He worked with marvellous facility and concealed his consummate science under an unobtrusive technic. While he did not confine his burin to portraits, it was these which gave him his great fame, for he so depicted all the notable men of his time, in the Church and the Court, and in literature and art, that we, today, gain an insight into their very character. The greater part of his work was reproductive, but he sometimes engraved from his own drawings, for he was a superb draughtsman. Edelinck was chosen to engrave Raphael‘s “Holy Family“, Le Brun’s “Magdalen”, and “Alexander Visiting the Family of Darius”, the first-named bringing him instant fame. Only two impressions before letters of the “Holy Family” exist. Edelinck’s life was one of piety, contentment, and tireless labor; it was made up of teaching engraving to his son and his two brothers and working on his own plates. Death found him engraving the “Alexander Entering the Tent of Darius”, a superb plate finished by Pierre Drevet. To his family he left a fortune. Plates wholly his own were signed “Gerard Edelinck”, or “Edelinck eques”; but when his compatriot Pitau or Gaspard Edelinck assisted him the signature was “Edelinck”. Among his pupils were Gaspard, Jean, and Nicolas Edelinck, Lombard, and Trouvain. His principal works are: “Portrait of Louis XIV“, after Le Brun; “Portrait of Rigaud”, after Rigaud; “Portrait of Mme. Hélyot with a Crucifix”, after Galliot; “Portrait of Philippe de Champaigne”, which the artist thought his best work, after Champaigne; “Combat of the Four Horsemen”, after da Vinci.
NICOLAS, son of the preceding, b. in Paris in 1680; d. there in 1730. He studied under his father, Gerard, and to perfect himself subsequently went to Italy. In Venice he produced many plates in the style of his father, whom, however, he never equalled in vigor or quality. He engraved several plates for the Crozat collection. His masterpiece is a “Virgin and Infant” after Correggio.
JEAN, b. in Antwerp, c. 1643; d. in Paris, 1680. He was a younger brother and pupil of Gerard, with whom he worked and whose style he imitated. Plates wholly his own are much inferior to those of his celebrated brother, though they have considerable merit. “The Deluge“, after A.Veronese, is his masterpiece. He made many engravings of the statues in the gardens of Versailles.
GASPARD-FRANCOIS, b. in Antwerp, 1652; d. in Paris, 1722. Gaspard, the youngest brother of Gerard, who was his teacher and co-worker, was inferior in talent to the other members of the Edelinck family, and did not long follow the career of engraver. Because he used a signature similar to that of Gerard and because his master often helped him with his plates, much of his work is difficult to distinguish from Gerard’s.