Jean-Jacques Boissard


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(b Besançon, 1528; d Metz, 30 Oct 1602). French antiquarian, artist and neo-Latin poet. After beginning his education with his uncle, the itinerant Classical scholar Hugues Babel, Boissard studied in Leuven and then in Germany and northern Italy, settling in Rome in 1556. Here he began to study and draw the monuments and collections of antiquities in and around the city. He returned to Besançon in 1559 but, because of his Protestant faith, soon moved to Metz, leaving most of his drawings at Montbéliard where they were later destroyed. Boissard collaborated with the goldsmith Jean Aubry (fl 1600) and the Frankfurt engraver and publisher Theodor de Bry (see de Bry (1)) in the production of illustrated books to which he contributed texts and drawings. The Emblematum liber (1593) differs from the usual emblem format by including explanatory prose texts. This idea was developed in the Theatrum vitae humanae (1596), a collection of biblical and mythological vignettes with long, moralizing commentaries. Boissard also produced collections of portraits and a book on national costumes. His most ambitious work was the compendious Romanae urbis topographia (4 vols, Frankfurt, 1597–1602), one of the most important works of Renaissance antiquarianism to appear outside Italy. The work mainly consists of illustrations of statues, monuments and inscriptions, often imaginatively restored. Some of these engravings were based on Boissard's drawings, others were simply copied from existing engravings.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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