Image 1. Portrait of Jan Amos Comenius, by George Glover, line engraving, 1642. Dimensions: 4 3/8 in. x 2 7/8 in. (111 mm x 73 mm) paper size. Source: National Portrait Gallery, London, no. D28630. Licence: CC by-nc-nd/3.0.
The date coincides with Comenius's visit to England. Wenceslaus Hollar engraved an inferior version of the image in 1652.
Image 2. Old man in an armchair by Rembrandt, c. 1665, oil on canvas, 104 x 86 cm; Galleria degli Uffici, Florence. Source: Wikimedia.
On the identification of the sitter as Comenius, see Ernst van de Wetering, A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. vi: Rembrandt's Painting Revisited: A Complete Guide (2014), no. 306, pp. 453, 675-6. Cf. the portrait on the title page of the Opera didactica omnia of 1657, produced a few years earlier, shortly after the sitter's arrival in Amsetrdam.
Further resources. Comenius is not well served by historical literature in English. The programme below (44 minutes), broadcast on the BBC World Service to mark the 350th anniversary of his death on 15 November 1670, provides a conversational overview. The introduction on the BBC website reads as follows:
Teaching not by rote but through play? That's credited to the 17th-century Czech pastor and thinker called Jan Amos Comenius. Splitting schoolchildren up into year groups? That's Comenius. Universal education for all, rich and poor? That's down to him too. Nearly four centuries ago, Comenius came up with principles of modern education but they were only implemented hundreds of years after his death. That these ideas are now so widely accepted obscures the fact that they were ground-breaking - indeed too radical - in his day.
Comenius lived through turbulent times: the devastating Thirty Years War served as the backdrop to much of his life. He suffered personal tragedy during the bitter battles between Protestants and Catholics in Europe and spent most of his adult life in exile. Joining Rajan Datar to analyse the contribution to modern thinking made by Comenius in this, the 350th anniversary year of his death are Dr. Vladimir Urbanek, Head of the Department of Comenius' Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague; Howard Hotson, Professor of Early Modern Intellectual History at Oxford University; and Dr. Yoanna Leek from the Faculty of Education Sciences at Lodz University in Poland.
The podcast can also be accessed here.
Credits: Howard Hotson (February 2017 / November 2019)