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Junius, Franciscus

    Full Name: Junius, Franciscus

    Other Names:

    • Franciscus Junius du Jon the younger

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 29 January 1591

    Date Died: 19 November 1677

    Place Born: Heidelberg, Saxony, Germany

    Place Died: Windsor, Windsor and Maidenhead, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): art history, historiography, and philology

    Career(s): patrons (philanthropists)


    Philologist, author of an early art history and exponent of the visual arts. Junius was born into an illustrious Calvinist family. His father, Junius the elder (or Du Jon; 1545-1602), was a French Huguenot theologian who taught in Heidelberg and Leiden. His mother was Joanna (d. 1591), daughter of a Belgian noble, Simon l’Hermite. One uncle, Johan van den Corput (1542-1611), a military engineer and another, Franciscus Gomarus (1563-1641), a theologian was an important figure in the Dutch Reformation. Fanciscus Junius was educated at Leiden in philology, theology and the sciences. In 1621 he moved to England, first to work in the library of the Bishop of Norwich, Samuel Harsnet (1561-1631). Through Bishop Lancelot Andrewes assistance he became the librarian to Thomas Howard (1585-1646), the 2nd Earl of Arundel in 1639 and then tutor to his children. As a patron of the arts second only to Charles I, Arundel owned vast collections of paintings and classical sculpture. Junius initially studied medieval manuscripts in the 1650’s before focusing his attention on compiling the extant references to art from the classical world. His brother-in-law, the Dutch scholar John Gerard Vossius (1577-1649), suggested Junius extract the references on art from John Selden’s Marmora Arundelliana (1627), a compilation of classical inscriptions on artists and artworks. This manuscript work (eventually published in 1694 as Catalogus Artificum) led Arundel to urge Junius to compile a larger compilation of art quotations, which he combined with with a philological treatise on the classical notions of art, an art history, defence of the pictorial arts, and an art manual, as De pictura veterum. Published in 1637, it was translated into English the following year by Junius himself as The Painting of the Ancients. The book became a powerful scholarly and political tool–praised by both Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck–in the right for art to be ranked among the highest disciplines. Junius’ relationship with his patron, the Earl, however, was never easy. Arundel wanted Junius to give up scholarship and instead look for antiquities in the Mediterranean countries to add to Arundel’s collection. Junius frequently left the Earl’s service though he was in exile with the family during the civil wars of the 1640’s. After 1642 he spent his life in the Netherlands, returning to England only in 1674 at the end of his life. The year before his death he donated his collection of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts as well as a portion of his book collection on philology to the the Bodleian Library at Oxford. While living at with his nephew, Isaac Vossius, in Windsor, he caught a fever and died. He is buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. De Pictura Veterum is divided in several books. One book is composed of classical texts on the arts and Junius’ commentary on them. A second is an alphabetical list of quotations of the lives and works of artists of antiquity. Like other collections of classical quotations, De Pictura Veterum served scholars and rhetoriticians as a source for ancient thought. Junius’ commentary to the inscriptions extended the scholarly content. The tome found a second important use, as well. The renaissance debate over the primacy of the arts–the written arts vs. the graphic arts–had once again come to the fore. The most recent dispute arose between the playwright Ben Jonson (1573-1637), and court architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652) for Charles I. In The Painting of the Ancients, Junius can be clearly read as siding with Jones and the supremacy of the visual arts. Junius’s championing of the visual arts also supported the notion of art’s power to promote a virtuous life, countering the argument of William Prynne (1600-1669) in his Histrio-mastix, 1633, which attacked the Court of Charles I and its patronage of the arts. Later art historians, such as Johannes Overbeck made heavy use of Junius’ book, particularly in his influential Die antiken Schriftquellen, 1868. As a modern aside, Painting of the Ancients shows up frequently in the etomologies of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) because of the fondness for this text of one of the early volunteer contributors to the Dictionary, the American William Chester Minor (1834-1920) (Winchester).

    Selected Bibliography

    De pictura veterum libri tres. Amsterdam: Johann Blaeu, 1637, English, The Painting of the Ancients, in Three bookes Declaring by Historicall Observations and Examples, the Beginning, Progresse, and Consvmmation of that Most Noble Art. London: R. Hodgkinsonne and Daniel Frere, 1638;Catalogus Artificum, in Junius, Franciscus. De pictura veterum libri tres tot in locis emendati, & tam multis accessionibus aucti, ut plane novi possint videri, accedit Catalogus, adhuc ineditus, architectorum, mechanicorum, sed præcipue pictorum, statuariorum, cælatorum, tornatorum, aliorumque artificum, & operum quæ secerunt, secundum seriem litterarum digestus. London: Prostant apud Sam. Smith & Benj. Walford, 1694; [correspondence:] Romburgh, Sophia Georgina van, ed. For My Worthy Freind [sic] Mr. Franciscus Junius: an Edition of the Correspondence of Francis Junius F.F. (1591-1677). Boston: Brill, 2004.


    Howarth, David. “Franciscus Junius.” Dictionary of Art 17: 693-4; Rademaker, C. S. M. “Young Franciscus Junius: 1591-1621.” in, Franciscus Junius F. F. and His Circle. Rolf H. Bremmer, ed. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998, pp. 1-33; Pfehl, Philipp. “Access to the Ancients: Junius, Rubens and Van Dyck.” in, Franciscus Junius F. F. and His Circle. Rolf H. Bremmer, ed. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998, pp. 35-70; Fehl, Philipp. “Junius (Du Jon) Franciscus.” Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, pp. 625-27; Romburgh, Sophia Georgina van. “Introduction.” in, Romburgh, Sophia Georgina van, ed. For My Worthy Freind [sic] Mr. Franciscus Junius: an Edition of the Correspondence of Francis Junius F.F. (1591-1677). Boston: Brill, 2004, pp. 1-56; Winchester, Simon. The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 198, note 4.


    "Junius, Franciscus." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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