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In 1660, the Flemish artist David Teniers published the
Theatrum Pictorium, or ‘Theatre of Painting’, the first
printed and illustrated catalogue of a major paintings
collection. The collection belonged to Archduke Leopold
Wilhelm
, governor of the Southern Netherlands (modern-
day Belgium) from 1646 to 1656. During that time, Leopold
Wilhelm acquired more than 1,300 paintings spanning two
centuries.
The catalogue illustrates 243 of them, most from the Italian
Renaissance. In preparation, Teniers painted copies in oil
paint on small wooden panels working directly from the
originals. He sent these small copies to specialist engravers
who reproduced them as prints for the publication.
The Courtauld owns 14 of these copies, the largest number
in any public collection. They are a valuable record of
paintings that have since been altered or lost. They also
show Teniers’s remarkable skill and the growing interest in
the art of the past.

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