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'Philibert de Naillac' from volume "Heads of Illustrious Men &c."

volume (60.5 x 43 x 5 cms) inscr. b.c. hand written in brown ink "PHILIBERT.DE.NAILLAC"; inscr. in ribbon garland "REX ANIMOR HERCULES ATO EXPUGNATOR CORDIU" CRE PATIGNY, Joseph; (French; fl. 1660-1670) AFTER RAINALDI, Domenico; (Italian; 1619-1698) This volume is part of William Hunter's original bequest. Of its 102 portraits, inserted onto 60 pages, 89 are from two sets of portraits of Grand Masters of the Order of St. John with many of the sitters duplicated. This print from the second set belongs to one of several 17th century sets based on 16th century prototypes (see Glaha 17040), engraved with the contemporary fashion for portraits of famous historical figures in mind. Distinct to this set are the emblematic images in the corners and the double-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire at the top.
The Order of St John was created in Jerusalem to care for the sick. Officially recognised by Pope Pascal II in 1113, it became a military and political force of great power and played a crucial role in the Crusades.
The French Knight Philibert de Naillac served as 33rd Grand Master of the Order from 1396 to 1421 whilst they were based in Rhodes. His portrait, like most Grand Masters portraits prior to 1450, was probably invented although some likenesses could be found on coins.