"The known facts of van Bolten’s life and work are few. He was born at Zwolle ca. 1573. He is known to have been in Italy in 1596 and 1602. By 1603 he was back in his home-town, where he married one Birgitta Lantinck. The couple had eight children. He was a silversmith by profession. At some point he moved with his family from Zwolle to Leeuwarden, where he died, ca. 1633.
Van Bolten’s reputation, however, rests mainly on his drawings, and in particular on the album in the British Museum that bears the title “BOLTEN VAN SWOL/TEEKENINGE” The drawings range from ornament, objects in precious metals, grotesque figures and monsters, to figural scenes from the Bible and mythology, the Shrovetide carnival, the commedia dell’arte and peasant life.
This album was compiled by an unknown collector ca. 1637, who had the drawings numbered, and grouped into thematic sections. ‘Some of van Bolten’s drawings of monsters and fanciful animals bear a resemblance to those in the prints of Christoph Jamnitzer […] and Wendel Dietterlin the Younger.’ Several of the designs in the album had been ‘turned into meticulously-faithful prints’ and published in Paris (between 1604 and 1616) by a Flemish-born printseller named Pierre Firens. The four images above are examples of these engravings. The last of them combines two of van Bolten’s drawings (nos. 151 and 152 in the album, shown below), into a single composition, embellished with farting monkeys.
‘A number of fantastic bronze animals have been attributed to van Bolten on the basis of stylistic similarities to his designs known from the drawings and the prints.’ Four different models have been documented. At least ten examples of the birdlike creature (the first image below) are known. Some of them seem to have been designed as novelty lamps, where the wick (and the flame) would come out of the creature’s mouth. Another figurine, of which just a single example is recorded, depicts a monster with a reptile’s head, a bird’s body and legs, with snail-shells in place of wings. The second image below shows a statuette with the head of a buffalo, the body of a frog, with stylised wings in place of forelegs, and the hind legs of a hoofed animal. It is not known whether these bronzes were van Bolten’s own work, or whether they were modelled from his drawings, or the engraved copies thereof."
- quote taken from the long defunct but amazing Giornale Nuovo.
You'll notice the post on Bolten there was provoked by a previous post here on Bolten's works. Almost ten years later and I'm returning to deliver the best examples of Arent van Bolten that I've been able to dig up over the years.
See examples of Bolten's grotesque ornamental oil lamps here.