Countless Dutch men and women have seen them: the famous illustrations of the in total hundred old crafts from the booklet Het Menselyk Bedryf (1694) – of which ‘the Engraver’ (below) is a fine example. Even today, the images still turn up on ornamental tiles, stained-glass panes and retailers’ plastic carrier bags. The maker of the original images is the illustrator Jan Luyken (1649-1712). Together with his son and only pupil Casper Luyken (1672-1708), he worked up sketches of old Dutch crafts into etchings and published them in book form. The booklet was a great success and almost immediately following its publication, a more or less illegal copy of the book appeared on the market, under the title Menschelyke Beezigheden.
The illustrations in Het Menselyk Bedryf are the crowning work in Jan and Casper Luyken’s vast oeuvre. Father and son are regarded as the most important book illustrators of their time. The Luykens took their subjects from many different fields: medicine, biblical history, shipbuilding, draughtsmanship, Dutch history etc. The Amsterdam Museum owns the world’s largest collection of Luyken prints. These drawings and prints can all be viewed online here; the AM's Luyken book collection will become available at a later date.