Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Johan Sadeler 1’s engraving, “Hermit Ciomus”, c1585

Johan Sadeler 1 (aka Jan Sadeler; Johannes Sadeler; Johann Sadeler) (1550–1600)

“Hermit Ciomus”, c1585, after a lost drawing by Maarten de Vos (1532–1603) from the series of 29 engraved plates of male hermits, “Solitudo sive Vitae Patrum Eremicolorum”, published by Sadeler (an unspecified member of the Sadeler family as inscribed on the plate but arguably Johan Sadeler)

Engraving on fine laid paper
Size: (sheet) 19.1 x 22.7 cm; (plate) 17.5 x 20.9 cm
Inscribed within the image at lower left: “Sadeler exe.”
Lettered below the image borderline in two columns of two lines: "Etsi non paucis CIOMVS …/ “…// 25// …/ … fuit.”
State: i (of ii) before erasure of the number, "25", in state ii

TIB 2001 7001.373.S1 (vol. 70, Part 2 [Supplement], pp. 211–12); Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 402; Hollstein 1995-96, vol. 44, no 989; Nagler 1835–52, no. 135; Le Blanc, no. 121: Wurzbach, no. 113; Edquist, p. 66, no 76A.b

Condition: marvellously crisp, lifetime impression with small margins. There are a few stains otherwise in excellent condition.

I am selling this beautiful museum-quality engraving from 1585 for a total cost of AU$166 (currently US$131.12/EUR111.14/GBP102.50 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this rare image—perhaps unique in terms of Renaissance era prints—featuring the non-visual element of sound as expressed by the bell in the distant tower shown swinging mid-chime, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

According to Isabelle de Ramaix (2001) in her catalogue raisonné for Johan Sadeler 1 (see “The Illustrated Bartsch”, volume 70. Part 2 [Supplement]), at the time that this plate was executed “the cult of saints was very lively …and most of the popular saints were well known by ordinary people” (p. 169). What I find extraordinary about this particular hermit saint is that he never existed! There was no hermit named “Ciomus”! He was, to quote De Ramaix, “pure invention” (ibid).

I am not completely surprised to learn of this big fib from the 16th century as this afternoon while I was watering my garden and thinking about what life must be like as a hermit, an anomaly about this print started to play havoc in my head: why is a male hermit living so close to town when only lady hermits lived near towns? The silly thought occurred to me that Ciomus must have a leaning to the soft life with a love for quiche and opera but, when I read later this evening that he was a fictitious hermit, everything fell into place. I realised that the portrayed scene was indeed a scene set for a female saint and should never have had a male inhabiting it.

The “real” reason that I wished to post this print, however, has nothing to do with hermits. My reason to share it is simply because in my previous post featuring a splendid print by Galle, I discussed the principle employed by artists who use tonal contrast at the silhouette edge of forms. In short I explained how artists like Galle, and here with Sadeler, darken the background behind the lit side of a subject (e.g. the dome of the church) and lighten the background where the subject is in shadow.

Not only is this a superb example of the principle but this print has one other almost unique feature that sets it apart from many other etchings from the Renaissance era: it shows a bell in the church tower swinging mid-chime. This feature is remarkable for this time as very few images express the non-visual element: sound.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Philips Galle’s engraving, “Fishing with Dip Nets on the River Arno”, 1578

Philips Galle (aka Philippe Galle; Philippus Gallaeus) (1537–1612)

“Fishing with Dip Nets on the River Arno”, 1578, from the series of 43 unnumbered plates dedicated to Cosimo de Medici, “Venationes Ferarum, Avium, Piscium”, after Jan van der Straet (aka Joannes Stradanus) (1523–1605).

Note: according to the curator of the British Museum’s explanation about the series, this impression is from the first edition of 43 unnumbered plates that were all engraved by Philips Galle with a dedication page to Cosimo de Medici. After this edition the series was expanded to 104 plates engraved by A. Collaert, J. Collaert, C. Galle I and C. de Mallery with a dedication page to the jurist Henricus van Osthoorn en Sonnevelt (see and A. Baroni and M. Sellink, “Stradanus 1523-1605: Court artist of the Medici”, Groeningemuseum Brugge 2008-2009, Turnhout, 2012, pp.245–58, cat.nos.32–49.). In the later expanded edition of 104 plates, this plate was numbered “96” on the lower left.

Engraving on laid paper with margins as published in the first edition of 1578.
Size: (sheet) 24.3 x 36.3 cm; (plate) 21.8 x 29.6 cm
Lettered below the image borderline: “Sic, humili si quando vadum caret aeqouris unda, Piscantur teretes sinuato in gurgite pisces.”
State: i (of ii) (?) before the addition of the number, “96”, at lower-left below the image borderline.

New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 460.III (Johannes Stradanus); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 558.III (Philips Galle); Baroni Vannucci 1997 693.96 (Alessandra Baroni Vannucci 1997, “Jan van der Straet, detto Giovanni Stradano, flandrus pictor et inventor”, Milan, Jandi Sapi Editori)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print from the later edition when the plate was numbered:
“Plate numbered 96, Fishing with Dip Nets on the River Arno; fishermen wade in the river Arno, seen receding into the distance, with dip nets; to left and right, the city of Florence flanks the river; in the right foreground, a river god, holding a cornucopia, is seated upon a lion, representing Florence”  (

Condition: Marvellously crisp, lifetime impression (see explanation above). There is a tear in the sheet at lower left and a spot stain on Neptune’s beard but these issues has been addressed by restoration and are virtually invisible. The whole sheet is laid onto a support sheet of conservator’s fine archival/millennium quality washi paper.

I am selling this exceptionally rare, museum-quality engraving from the late 1578 for a total cost of AU$256 (currently US$202.64/EUR172.13/GBP157.78 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this important print with its fascinating glimpse at the hat fashion for fishermen in the 16th century, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

I would love to focus on the interesting hats that these chaps wear as they look so modern—and so Italian!—and yet they were clearly the rage for fishermen in the late 16th century. I especially like the jaunty shape of the hat worn by the lower-left fisherman; its flattened brim at the front almost advertises that he is a true party animal. To be frank, however, I know next to nothing about hat fashions for dip-net fishermen during the Renaissance period.

One feature of the print that I feel more at ease in discussing is Galle’s approach to rendering the fishermen. More specifically, the way that he darkens the background around the side of the figures that is in light and lightens the tone of the background on the side of the figures that is in shadow. For example, note how Galle has added a dark halo of tone to accentuate by tonal contrast the light falling on the left elbow of figure in the foreground with his back to us while simultaneously lightening the background on the right side of the same arm where it is in shadow.

Galle uses this simple but important principle—what Paul Klee termed exotopic (i.e. outside area) and endotopic (i.e. inside area) contrast of tone—consistently throughout this engraving and the closer that I examine the print the more subtle his application of it appears. Of course, Galle was far from being the only Renaissance artist to apply the principle (see, for example, my earlier post where I discuss Johan Sadeler's use of it), but what is exciting for me is knowing that the principle is employed so seamlessly that a casual viewer might not even see the mastery of its application at all … that is, until it is pointed out.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Adolphe Appian’s etching, “L’Étang Neuf Près de Creys (Isère)”, 1864

Adolphe Appian (1818–98)

“L’Étang Neuf Près de Creys (Isère)” [New pond near Creys (Isère)], 1864, originally published by Cadart & Luquet (fl1863-67) for the Société des Aqua-Fortistes’ second volume of prints (1864), 'Eaux-Fortes Modernes: Originales et Inédites', and printed by Auguste Delâtre (1822–1907). For more information about this publication see the BM curator’s comments regarding the frontispiece for the publication:,1008.270&page=1

Etching on cream chine-collé on heavy wove white paper
Signed in image at upper-left corner: “Appian 1864”
Inscribed: (upper-right margin) “116”; (lower-left margin) “A. Appian sculp.”; (lower-centre margin) “L’ÉTANG NEUF PRES DE CREYS (Isère)”
Size: (sheet) 29.4 x 49.6 cm; (plate) 15.9 x 28.6 cm; (chine-collé) 14.9 x 27.3 cm; (image borderline) 13.9 x 26.7 cm
State iv (of iv) (with the publication details from the second volume of prints produced by the Société des Aquafortistes erased)

Jennings 10; Curtis & Prouté 11 (A Curtis & P Prouté 1968, “AA son oeuvre gravé et lithographié”, Paris); Brou 1997 66 (Marie-Dominique Nivière 1997, “Adolphe Appian”, Musée du Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:

Condition: This is a rich impression of a rare print with full margins as published. The lettered details show signs of wear to the printing plate. The sheet is almost perfect, but there is a closed tear in the chine-collé at the upper edge which has been restored to being almost invisible by the whole sheet having been laid upon a conservator’s support sheet.

I am selling this spectacularly beautiful etching by Appian for the total cost of AU$182 (currently US$144.38/EUR122.69/GBP112.05 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this sublime etching by one of the major French printmakers linked to the Barbizon School, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This is one of Appian’s major prints and for this reason it is showcased in Michel Melot’s (1996) marvellous book, “The Impressionist Print” (p. 79), with a heavily inked version of the same print—what the French describe as “saucée” (gravied)—from an earlier state.

There are several reasons for its importance and they are not all to do with the wonderful sense of space and ease of execution that Appian was able to instil in this tightly organised composition.

As a way of explaining one aspect of its importance, my eye is drawn to the special way that Appian uses the white of the paper to describe his vision of the subject—what the British Museum describes as a “view along path beside pond in landscape, with figures walking dog”)—but this vision of landscape is not exactly about physical reality. Instead, I read the image as being about the luminous and somewhat unearthly light pervading the scene; an effect that is even more notable in the earlier saucée state. In short, what makes this print interesting in a grand timeline extending from the Barbizon School to Impressionism is that it exemplifies a change of interest from rendering objective reality to expressing experiential reality of the intangible; or to express this slightly differently: a change from portraying a subject as if it were a physical solid to portraying it as an experience of sensory effects.

Melot’s (1996) explains Appian’s interest in these “sensory effects” with the insightful comment:
“… his work definitely tends to highlight the non-material elements of the landscape. The mountains are rendered by their shadow or by their reflection in the water rather than by their rock structure; scrub woodland is represented by its transparency rather than by its opacity; the sky is busier and more charged with movement than the land“ (ibid).

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Charles Jacque’s pencil drawing, “Forest Edge”, 1869

Charles Émile Jacque (aka Charles Jacque; Charles-Emile Jacque) (1813–1894)

“Forest Edge”, 1869
Graphite pencil drawing on laid paper lined onto a conservator's support sheet of archival/millennium quality washi paper
Size: (sheet) 11.6 x 16.5 cm
Inscribed in pencil with the artist’s signature and date: “24 September 1869”

Condition: The sheet is in a clean condition with a closed tear at the top edge. This issue has been addressed by the whole sheet having been laid upon a conservator’s support sheet.

I am selling small original pencil drawing by Charles Jacque—a seminal and key artist of the Barbizon School—for the total cost of AU$212 (currently US$168.28/EUR143/GBP130.70 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this exceptionally rare signed and dated study by the hand of one of the great French masters, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This drawing has been sold

This drawing is very small—a genuine sketchbook size piece of paper—that I can easily imagine was taken out into the field by one of the most famous of the French artists of the 19th century, most notably as one of the key figures in the Barbizon School of artists: Charles Emile Jacque.

When looking at a drawing like this I can to a limited extent construct the spirit of the man who made it. Of course I may be VERY wrong in the assessments that follow but at least I’ve laid out what I have pieced together.

Assessment 1: Jacque was right-handed and he executed this drawing the “right” way around (i.e. he didn’t work on it at any stage by turning the sheet to one side or upside down). My opinion that he is right-handed is based solely on the angle of the return strokes or zigzag lines tilting to the right. I also feel certain that the entire drawing was “done” with the top of the page always in the same position, because there is a downward pressure in the phrasing of the strokes.

Assessment 2: Jacque was a humble man and not given to being a controlling person. This personality trait is reflected in the fact that he has not underlined his signature—a hallmark of an overly confident person or narcissist—or added a full-stop after his signature—an arguable hallmark of person liable to be controlling. The extraordinary length of the “J” and “y” in the signature suggests to me that he wished to be more than he is (i.e. the length of these letters may indicate that he is creating a facade to hide his true identity). 

Assessment 3: Jacque was an introvert. My reason to suggest this is based on the composition. What I mean by this is that introverted people tend to create pictorial barriers in their artworks designed to hinder viewers from conceptually “entering into” the pictorial depth of a scene. In this drawing such a pictorial barrier exists in the middle distance where Jacque has employed a screen of trees to create a partial barrier.

Assessment 4: Jacque was an emotionally balanced chap. I suspect that this is true as he has created an even proportional balance between the areas in the drawing that are heavily worked upon and areas where there is no line-work at all.

Assessment 5: This is a study is made from direct observation in the field. Although the line work carries all the attributes of a quick sketch made out in the field (perhaps near Écouen?), there is a secret to its execution that helps to confirm this: there are no figures or animals. I mention this shortfall as Nancy Mowll Mathews (1994), in “Mary Cassatt: A Life”, describes Mary Cassatt’s shock, horror and dismay when she discovered: “… that they [viz. Troyen, Breton, Millet, Rousseau, Corot and Jacque] neglected the figures in their composition—in fact, did not draw them from life” (p. 46). 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Jean Jacques de Boissieu’s etching (with drypoint), “Entrée de forêt avec une masure, à gauche”, 1772

Jean Jacques de Boissieu (aka Jean Jacques de Boissieux) (fl1736–1810)

“Entrée de forêt avec une masure, à gauche” (Transl. “Entrance to forest with hovel on the left”), 1772

Etching and drypoint on grey chine collé upon laid paper.
Size: (sheet) 40.9 x 54.6 cm; (plate) 28.7 x 40.6 cm
Inscribed with the artist’s monogram below the image borderline at right: “DB *[asterisk]”
State iv (of iv) with the added monogram of the artist at lower right with asterisk

Perez 61 IV (Perez, Marie-Félicie 1994, “L'Oeuvre gravé de Jean-Jacques de Boissieu”, Geneva, pp. 142–43)

Condition: rare impression of great delicacy but there are spots of restoration where the tissue thin chine collé has been cut. There is also a closed tear at the centre top margin but this issue has been addressed with the whole sheet having been laid upon a conservator’s support sheet.

I am selling this very poetic etching for the total cost of AU$153 (currently US$121.45/EUR103.21/GBP94.33 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this beautiful print that one could argue links the vision of Ruisdael with the artists of the Barbizon School, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

There is a companion print to this marvellous etching, titled “Entrée de forêt en Brie, avec masure, à droite” (Ref. Perez 60) shown in the upper image, which presents the same dilapidated house, but from the viewpoint of standing behind it.

What I find interesting when studying these prints is that the raking light in both scenes has such a remarkable effect on how I perceive the form of the house, trees and figures. In short, the light streaming from the left in the upper print seems (to my eye) to render the portrayed forms as being more solidly three-dimensional than the same scene below it where the light illuminates the features from the right side. This effect may simply be the result of a Western reading direction and a whole tradition of art in Occidental art of lighting subjects from the top-front-left but the comparison reveals how important that the direction of light in a scene really is.

I should add at this point that even though the portrayed features in upper print may be more convincingly three-dimensional, this does not mean that I prefer the upper print. In truth, the opposite is true. For some strange reason, I like the not-quite-so-real dimensions of the lower print with its source of illumination from the right. Perhaps this is because the lower print has an aura of unreality to it: an awkward reality that is subliminally unsettling, but which keeps me interested nevertheless.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Aegidius Sadeler’s etching (with engraving), “River Landscape with Farmhouse and Pilgrims”, 1597–1629

Aegidius Sadeler II (aka Gillis Sadeler; Egidius Sadeler; Ægedius Sadeler) (c1570–1629)

“River Landscape with Farmhouse and Pilgrims” (TIB title); “Mountain Landscape with Resting Travellers” (Rijksmuseum title), 1597–1629, after a lost drawing by Pieter Stevens II (c1567–before 1632) from the series, “Eight Bohemian Landscapes”, published by Aegidius Sadeler.

Etching and engraving on fine laid paper.
Size: (sheet) 24.2 x 32.1 cm; (plate) 21 x 28.5 cm
Inscribed within the image border along the lower edge: (left) “Petri. St. In:”; (left of centre) “Eg. Sa.ex.”
State ii or iv (of iv) (Note: state ii is signified by both inscriptions having been rendered almost unreadable by the hatching while state iii is inscribed on the right: “Marco Sadeler excudit.” In state iv this publisher’s details are erased.)

TIB 72 (Part 2, Supplement) 7201.271 S1 (Walter L Strauss & Isabelle de Ramaix [Eds.] 1998, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 72, Part 2 [Supplement], p. 73); Hollstein Dutch 262-1 (2) (Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 262); Le Blanc, no. 186; Wurzbach, no. 96; Nagler 1835—52, nos. 199–204

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“Mountain landscape with resting travellers in the foreground. A river valley in the background. The last picture of an eight-part series of Bohemian landscapes.” (

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with margins of varying size but approximately 1.5 cm. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing) but there is a closed hole that is visible only when looking at the print from the back.

I am selling this superb impression of a very rare print for the total cost of AU$270 (currently US$213.81/EUR182.09/GBP166 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this remarkably detailed and important print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Landscapes executed at the time of Aegidius Sadeler were a rich amalgam of symbolic meanings.

For example the inclusion of the dead skeletons of trees shown among living trees on the distant rocky hill is not an incidental detail. The grouping of living with dead trees projects—for a 17th century audience—the vanitas meaning about the transience of life: all living things must ultimately die—like the memento mori symbolism of a skull. Added to this projected meaning, the juxtaposition of the dead trees with living trees also carries the connotation that life is a cycle, in the sense that trees may die but they will be reborn again with the next generation of trees.

Another feature of prints in the 17th century is that many landscape artists liked to show trees “clutching” onto hillsides with their exposed roots. Again, this motif of exposed tree roots is not incidental. Instead, the symbolism was potent for early landscape artists as it signified life forces at work in nature drawing energy from beneath the earth and up through the trees to the heavens above.

From a personal standpoint, I find the comparison of how 17th century artists valued the landscape with the way that Chinese and Japanese artists valued their scholar stones/rocks fascinating. For those who may be interested in this topic, I have written an explanation about the attributes of Scholar Stones in my blog; see “Ugly Beauty—Five Principles” (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Antonio Tempesta’s pair of engravings, “L Pigargus I Pigargo” and “Gosel Strepiseronte”, c1620

Antonio Tempesta (1555?–1630)

“L Pigargus I Pigargo” and “Gosel Strepiseronte”, 1565–1630/50, published in the second edition (as signified by the inscribed plate numbers, “128” and “129”, at the lower-right corners) by Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi (1627–91) in the series, “Nova raccolta de li animali piu curiosi del mondo” (Transl. “New Collection of the Most Curious Animals in the World’) (1650).

Etchings on laid paper.
Size: (sheet) 29 x 44 cm; (each plate) 9.8 x 13.9 cm
Titles and plate numbers inscribed below the image borderlines of the plates.
State ii (of ii)

The Rijksmuseum offers descriptions of both prints:

Condition: crisp and well-printed impressions with original large margins as published in 1650. The sheet has been laid upon a conservator’s support sheet to preserve the uneven and fragile edges. There are a few minor blemishes in the margins (e.g. there is a dot-stain towards the upper left).

I am selling this pair of exceptionally rare etchings printed on the same page as published for the total cost of AU$245 (currently US$194.02/EUR165.52/GBP150.55 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this pair of beautiful etchings—note the eye of the goat on the left as it assesses us—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This sheet of prints has been sold