Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tancrède Abraham’s etching, “Hunting in the Marshes”, 1863


Tancrède Abraham (1836–1895)

"La Chasse au Marais" (aka “Hunting in the Marshes”), 1863, published in "L'Artiste" (1863?).

Etching on wove paper trimmed close to the plate mark and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (support sheet) 45 x 35.5 cm; (sheet) 34.3 x 24.2 cm; (image borderline) 31 x 23.8 cm
Inscribed on the plate within the image borderline: “63 T. ABRAHAM.”
Surprisingly, this large print does not seem to be in any of the major art museums, nevertheless, it features in the online images offered by Wikimedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tancr%C3%A8de_Abraham-La_chasse_dans_le_marais.jpg (Note: Wikimedia credits the Cabinet des estampes et des dessins de Strasbourg as holding this print but my search was unsuccessful in finding it).

Condition: a richly inked and well-printed impression with the centrefold (from the publication of the print in "L'Artiste") flattened and now virtually invisible resulting from the print having been backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper and light retouching of the fold line crease. The sheet is trimmed close to the platemark/image borderline and is in near pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this large and visually arresting romantic etching for AU$146 (currently US$113.02/EUR95.91/GBP84.21 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this spectacular and darkly moody print showing an almost invisible lurking hunter in the darkness of a tree-bordered marshland glade, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


To my eyes, this dark and romantically moody print presents a slightly different scene from what the title proposes: a hunter stealthily seeking game in a marshland glade bordered by tall trees. For me it is not really about hunting at all—even through an almost invisible hunter is portrayed in the shadow—but rather the focus of the composition is on light shimmering on and sparkling through a screen of trees. This particular focus was very topical at the time that the print was executed—1863: the advent of a change in thinking foreshadowing the first Impressionist Exhibition of 1874.







Monday, 21 May 2018

Watanabe Shōtei’s woodblock prints, “Cicada on Lotus” & “Butterfly on Hydrangea”, 1890



Watanabe Shōtei [渡辺省亭] aka Watanabe Seitei (1851–1918)

(upper image) “Cicada on Lotus,” 1890, from the series of 86 woodblock prints, “Seitei kacho gafu 省亭花鳥画譜 (Seitei's Bird-and-Flower Painting Manual)”, published in 1890 by Ogura Shoten. Two separate colour woodblock panels glued together as a single image (i.e. two prints joined as a single sheet), 24.8 x 31 cm.

(lower image) “Butterfly on Hydrangea,” 1890, from the series of 86 woodblock prints, “Seitei kacho gafu 省亭花鳥画譜 (Seitei's Bird-and-Flower Painting Manual)”, volume 2, published in 1890 by Ogura Shoten.  Two separate colour woodblock panels glued together as a single image (i.e. two prints joined as a single sheet), 22.9 x 31.1 cm.

Note: Harrison-Hiett (rare books) offers detailed information about the two-volume book that these woodblock prints feature: http://www.harrison-hiett.com/rare-books/d/kacho-gafu-%5Bvol-1-and-2%5D-english-title%3A-%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%98album-of-birds-and-flowers%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%99/132197

Brown, Louise Norton, “Block Printing and Book Illustration in Japan”, London and New York, 1924, p. 202.
Mitchell, C H, with the assistance of Ueda, Osamu,”The Illustrated Books of the Nanga, Maruyama, Shijo and Other Related Schools of Japan. A Biobibliography”, Los Angeles, 1972, p. 466.
Toda, Kenji, “Descriptive Catalogue of the Japanese and Chinese Illustrated Books in the Ryerson Library of the Art Institute of Chicago”, Chicago, 1931, p. 427.

Condition: Beautifully delicate impressions in pristine condition for their age (note that each sheet consists of two separate plates that have been joined/glued perfectly).

I am selling this pair of extraordinary prints by a true master of the Japanese woodblock tradition for a total cost of AU$260 (currently US$195.33/EUR166.52/GBP145.63 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing these original woodblock prints please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 



Watanabe Shōtei has the distinction of being one of the first Nihonga artists (i.e. a traditional Japanese artist) to travel to Europe in the nineteenth century. Not only did he visit Europe, but in France he was awarded a bronze medal at the 1878 International Exhibition. Beyond this remarkable achievement of long distance travel, he is also famous for revitalising kachoga (bird-and-flower images) by introducing realistic visual devices of Western art into the comparatively flat planes, high-key tones and delicate colours of the Maruyama-Shijo School.

Regarding the difference between Occidental and Oriental ways of looking at art that Watanabe Shōtei attempted to merge, I’ve just started reading a book that I just can’t put down—except when the cook has made something tasty—that touches upon this particular issue: Claire Roberts’ (2010), “Friendship in Art: Fou Lei and Huang Binhong.” In this book Roberts offers insights into what she describes as the “gaping chasm” between the two cultures. Roberts summaries the Chinese artistic outlook—which for the sake of expedience I wish to include the Japanese way of looking—by proposing that Chinese art “places a primacy on the spirit”, and compares this to “modern Western art, which endlessly seeks sensuality and the beauty of abstraction through shape and colour” (p. 44).

Like any brief crystallisation of ideas about culture, there are significant oversights in Roberts' very succinct appraisal of cultural differences, especially when I wish to link these concepts with the cultural differences that Watanabe helped to bridge. Nevertheless, Roberts' idea that the essential cultural difference is between “spirit” and “sensuality” is fascinating to contemplate in terms of these prints. (My apologies to Claire Roberts if I have misinterpreted this aspect of her wonderful book. Sadly, I’m the sort of chap who can watch a movie and on recounting what it was all about finds out that he alone perceived the movie that way … weird!)












Saturday, 19 May 2018

Herman van Swanevelt’s etching, “The Magdalen Repentant”, c.1650


Herman van Swanevelt (aka Herman Swaneveld) (1603–55)

“The Magdalen Repentant” (La Madeleine en penitence) (TIB title) or “Penitent Mary Magdalene in the Wilderness” (Rijksmuseum title), 1643–55, from the series of four plates, “Landscapes with Penitent Saints”, published by André Vanheck with privilege from Louis XIV (King of France).

Etching on laid paper with margins and backed with a support sheet.
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Herman van Swanevelt Inventor fecit”; (right) AParis chez Vanheck / cum privilegio Regis”
Size: (sheet) 27.8 x 36.7 cm; (plate); 25.3 x 32.9 cm; (image borderline) 23.6 x 32.5 cm
State iii? (of iv) with the lettered addition of Vanheck as publisher.

TIB 2.107 (312) (Mark Carter Leach & Peter Morse [eds.] 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol. 2, Abaris Books, New York, p. 311); Hollstein Dutch 12-3 (4); Bartsch 312.

See also the description of this print at the Rijksmuseum:
“Mary Magdalene is lying on a rug in front of a cave. Next to her are a skull and a cross, her attributes. Two musical angels kneel on a cloud above her. The left angel plays a harp and the right angel plays a violin. The surrounding landscape is upholstered with many tree parties.”
(Note: the above description is a Google translation. I decided not to alter the last sentence because it is simply marvellous!)
See also the description of this print in its first state offered by the British Museum:
“The penitent Magdalene in a landscape; reclining in front of a cave in the rockface at left; looking at the cross and skull next to her; two angels playing a harp and violin above her; at right a crooked tree in foreground; the sea in background; from a series of four plates.”

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with small margins (approximately 2cm but smaller at the lower edge) in near faultless condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing). The sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this large and fascinating etching that delicately merges Mary Magdalene in her state of repentance accompanied by the sound of angels playing musical instruments and a sublime image of wildness in the spirit of Italian classical composition, for the total cost of AU$198 (currently US$148.76/EUR126.36/GBP110.45 at the time of posting this etching) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this this wonderful print, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


Although the title of this print underlines what ostensibly is the point of this large and very beautiful etching—an illustration of the repentant Magdalene in the wilderness—to my eyes the “real” subject is the wilderness as a sublime vision and the portrayed Magdalene is only a momentarily curious diversion. Not that the choice to give primacy to the Magdalene as the “real” subject should be a surprise. After all, at the time that Swanevelt composed this image, artists were commercially compelled to make their artworks important by use of subject matter of social or religious significance.

Regarding this composition being a celebration of the beauty of landscape and its natural forces, I wish to point out the broken tree shown in the right foreground. This tree is showcased in blaze of light for a very good reason: this regenerating tree is the often employed visual device used by artists in the 17th century to symbolise continuity in the cycle of life. I would love to connect the symbolism of this tree with the scene of the Magdalene in her state of repentance, but I suspect that I might be going too far with my reading of the composition.








Friday, 18 May 2018

Karel Dujardin’s etching, “Mule with a Bell”, 1653


Karel Dujardin (aka Carel Dujardin; Carel du Jardin; Karel Du Jardin; Bokkebaart) (1626 –78)

“Mule with a Bell” (“Le Mulet aux Clochettes”) (TIB title); “Mule with bell on halter and two lying donkeys” (Rijksmuseum title), 1653

Size: (sheet) 20.7 x 17.4 cm; (plate) 20.3 x 16.7 cm; (outer borderline) 19.8 x 16.3 cm;
(image borderline) 19.5 x 16.3 cm
Etching on laid paper with small margins backed on a support sheet.
Inscribed on plate below the image borderline: (left of centre) "K. DV. IARDIN.1653 fe"; (right corner) “29”.
State ii (of iii)
Bartsch 1.182.29; Hollstein 29.II

The British Museum offers the following description of this print in its second state:
“The hinny with the little bell. Landscape with a mule standing at centre, in profile to right, wearing a halter from which two bells hang, two other asses resting in right background, trees enclosed within a straw fence beyond; second state with number. 1653” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1617819&partId=1&searchText=dujardin+bell&page=1)
See also the Rijksmuseum’s description of their second state impression: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.38342

Condition: crisp and well-inked impression showing little or no wear to the plate suggesting that this is an early impression. (Note: compare this strong impression with the copy held by the BM [S.878]). The sheet is in near faultless condition for its age (i.e. there are no tears, folds, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing). The sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this exceptionally well-preserved and superb impression from an unworn plate by one of the most famous of the Golden Age Dutch artists for the total cost of AU$246 (currently US$184.68/EUR156.70/GBP136.92 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this remarkable print showcasing Dujardin’s skill in representing light, space and subtle differences of texture, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This print has been sold


Dujardin is famous for his “warts and all” representations of rural life—sheep and cows pissing and pooping accompanied by flies—he is also remembered as a true master of suggesting light, space and mimetic treatments of a full range of textures. For example, note how Dujardin describes the contours of the mule in the foreground (actually a hinny rather than a mule) using only line while simultaneously expressing the surface textures of the mule’s hair. Note also how Dujardin’s treatment of the foreground mule is quite different from his rendering of the mules further back and how well he suggests the spatial distance separating them. Such skill is rare and is the hallmark of great artist.







Thursday, 17 May 2018

Pierre Bulliard’s engraving, “Common Daisy”, 1780


Jean Baptiste François Pierre Bulliard (aka Pierre Bulliard) (1742–93)

“Plate 173: Bellis perennis (Common daisy), 1780, from “Herbier de la France, ou Collection complette des Plantes Indigènes de ce Royaume; avec leurs détails anatomiques, leurs propriétés, et leurs usages en Médecine.” (one of the first botanical books printed in colour and, interestingly, one of the few with plates designed and printed by the artist himself).

Engraving coloured by the painstaking and rare Le Blon-Gauthier process (i.e. these impressions are not coloured by watercolour or retouched by hand, but rather the prints were created through the superimposition of up to four plates inked separately by the technique called "à la poupée" for each colour).

Size: (sheet) 27 x 20.8 cm; (plate) 23.1 x 17.1 cm; (image borderline) 18 x 15.4 cm
See additional plates from this publication (“Herbier de la France”): http://www.biusante.parisdescartes.fr/histoire/medica/resultats/?cote=08338x04&do=pages 

Condition: faultless impression of this rare print with fine colouring by the Le Blon-Gauthier method. The sheet is in pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing), backed on a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this colour printed (as opposed to hand coloured) engraving from one of the first colour printed botanical books, for the total cost of AU$143 (currently US$107.46/EUR91.03/GBP79.57 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this beautiful botanical illustration that is also an historical milestone in colour printing, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold



This seemingly simple botanical illustration is a milestone in colour printing. What makes it special is that the colours are printed (rather than coloured by hand) by the superimposition of up to four engraved plates inked separately by the technique called "à la poupée" for each colour. Not only was the process (called the Le Blon-Gauthier process) slow and laborious, but in the case of this print and the others illustrating “Herbier de la France …” it was engraved, inked, wiped and printed at each stage by the artist. In short, this print when it was being printed has only been touched by Bulliard himself.

To a certain extent, colour woodblock prints (like the previous one that I posted) also involve separate plates of different colours superimposed to create a single image, but any artist who has explored working with multiple colours using oil-based inks on an intaglio plate (unlike the water-based inks of woodblock prints) knows that the viscosity of each colour—i.e. its oil content—needs to be adjusted so that the colours “stick.”







Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Andreas Luining’s engraving. “Ornamental frieze with Luna and Mythical Creatures”, 1582–89


Andreas Luining (aka Monogrammist AL; Andreas Luning) (fl.1589–1593)

“Ornamental frieze with Luna and Mythical Creatures”, 1582–89, from the series of twelve ornamental plates

Engraving on laid paper trimmed close to the image borderline and re-margined with a support sheet backing.
Size: (re-margined sheet) 21.3 x 25.8 cm; (unevenly trimmed sheet) 3.6 x 9.7 cm
Signed on plate with monogram, “A […] L”, at lower edge.

Hollstein 7; Nagler Monogrammisten I, 798, 5. With the monogram (Nagler Monogrammisten I, 798 and 821)
See another engraving from the same series at MK&G Collection Online: https://sammlungonline.mkg-hamburg.de/en/object/Rankfries/O1907.741/dc00102361

Condition: strong impression—undoubtedly a lifetime impression based on the crisp quality of the linework—with no signs of wear to the plate, trimmed near the image borderline and re-margined with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in excellent impression (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this exceptionally rare ornamental border engraving executed during the High Renaissance, for the total cost of AU$176 (currently US$131.71/EUR11.70/GBP97.67) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this superb print featuring a marvellous assortment of fictional animals such as winged deer and sphinx-like beasts, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print is reserved pending confirmation about its purchase


This is a VERY tiny print. In fact, when I compared the length of the print to my index finger I can report that it is about the same size—if my finger were to be painfully stretched a little. To my eyes the small size of the print is strangely important in the sense that its unusual size is visually arresting and invites close examination of each minuscule detail.

Regarding these details, what I find amazing about the mythological animals portrayed in the ornamental frieze is that they are shown interacting with each other. For example, the mirror images of rearing winged deer on the left and right sides of the composition seem to have bumped an urn of liquid which is now cascading down to a sedentary sphinx-like beast holding a snake entwined staff—perhaps Hermes' caduceus? This poor animal that is about to be saturated is oblivious to the pending disaster. Going further, even the goddess, Luna, at the centre of the composition is portrayed as active in the sense that she is holding two highly agitated dogs pulling against their leads.