Sunday, 22 July 2018

Antonio Tempesta’s etching, “The Romans Defeated by the Dutch Troops at Bonna”, 1611


Antonio Tempesta (1555?–1630)

“The Romans Defeated by the Dutch Troops at Bonna” (the Met title) or “Dutch Soldiers Return from Germany to Aid Civilis Defeat the Romans” (TIB title), 1611, possibly after Otto van Veen (1556–1629) (according to the Rijksmuseum [see RP-P-OB-37,681), plate 9 from the series of 37 plates (including the frontispiece/titlepage), “The War of the Romans against the Batavians” (Romanorvm et Batavorvm societas), published in the first edition (1612) with Latin letterpress text verso.

Etching on laid paper trimmed with thread margins around the image borderline and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 16.4 x 21.2 cm
Lettered below the image borderline: (in four lines of Dutch text at left): “Het Holladtsch cryghsvolck dat in Duytschlandt was, comt af van / Civilis te voren verwillight zynde. De Romeynen te Bon ligghende / vallen sterck wt om dat te Beletten, maer van de Hollan- / ders gheslaghen; dewelcke voort treckende voeghen hen by Civilis.”; (center within a circle) “9”; (in four lines of Latin text at right) “Batavorum cohortes in Italiam pergentes a Civili / occulte domum revocantur: Romani Bonnam insi- / dentes iter impedire conati erumpunt, sed a / Batavis funduntur.”
Latin text on verso from Tacitus’ “Histories”, IV, 19–29,
State i (of iii) Note: TIB lists this impression as “SI II” and the impressions without the Latin text verso as “SI I2”. In the third state the plate is “heavily retouched” and with “PLANCHE IX. / PASSAGE DE BONN FORCÉ.” (among other changes). There is also a copy in the same direction executed by Joseph Mulder and inscribed, “I. Mulder fecit.”

TIB 35 (17).568 S1 (145) (Sebastian Buffa [ed.] 1984, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Antonio Tempesta: Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century”, vol. 35, Abaris Books, New York, p. 297); Bartsch XVII.145.568 i/ii (Adam von Bartsch 1803, “Le Peintre graveur,” Vienna); Nagler XVIII.179.560-.595 (G K Nagler 1835–52, “Neus allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon” [22 vols.]).

See also the description of this print at the Rijksmuseum:
and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Condition: superb early impression from the first state that is richly inked, crisp and well-printed with Latin letterpress text from verso faintly visible recto (as is appropriate and expected for a print from this early edition). The sheet is in near faultless condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing), trimmed to the image borderline and backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this strong lifetime impression of this magnificent etching for the total cost of AU$195 (currently US$144.83/EUR123.44/GBP110.36 at the time of posting this) 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 near pristine etching executed when Rembrandt was only a five year old boy, 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


In earlier posts I have discussed quite a few of Tempesta’s other etchings from the same thirty-seven plate series (“The War of the Romans against the Batavians” [Romanorvm et Batavorvm societas]), but I have not focused attention on the letterpress text printed verso. Mindful of this shortfall, the time has come to address the text written by the great Roman historian (and senator), Tacitus (Publius/Gaius Cornelius Tacitus) (c56–c120 AD), shown on the back of this print.

Let me begin by admitting that in my schoolboy days I was not aware that I was a nerd. Now that I can look back on early interests without cringing, I can comfortably report that at the time I was fascinated by the early Roman writers, Tacitus and Suetonius. The reason, in part, was simply because the stories were rich in shocking behaviour (particularly Suetonius’ accounts of debauchery). I admit, however, that I also held a deep fascination for my Ancient History teacher who had a marvellous Scottish accent—oh such a beautiful a sound!—and the best collection of furry coats.

This early interest in Tacitus is now coming back to me as a reward for reading (in translation of course) what happened in ancient Roman times. What is shown here (from Tacitus’ “Histories”, IV, 19–29) is as Eckhard Leuschner (2007) explains:
“…an eruption of Roman troops from the gates of Bonna (Bonn) in an unsuccessful attempt to detain the Batavian troops which, although officially still in the service of the Romans, have been secretly order to return home by Civilis.” (TIB, vol., 35, Part 2, Commentary, p. 119).

My understanding of the portrayed scene, based on the Latin text lettered on the plate below the image (recto), is that the Batavian cohorts “from the Civil War in Italy” were near the gates of the city of Bonna when the Romans “burst out” but they were routed by the “Dutch” (i.e. the Batavians).







Saturday, 21 July 2018

Crispijn de Passe the Elder’s engraving (with etching), “Transitus”, 1599


Crispijn de Passe the Elder (aka Crispin Van de Passe; Crispin De Passe) (1564–1637) or from his work-shop

“Transitus” (transl. crossing), 1599, from the series of 30 plates, “Hortus Voluptatum” (transl. garden).

Engraving with etching on fine laid paper with small margins, backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 13.2 x 18 cm; (plate) 10.4 x 15.9 cm; (image borderline) 9.2 x 15.7 cm

Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (lower centre) “Transitus”
Lettered on plate below the image borderline in two lines of Latin text in two collumns: “In tenebris mundi dominatur vana voluptas, Hac tramen inconstans agitatio voluit ad ignem: / Fraus, cum stultitia, quodque cupido iubet. Transit et in fumum gloria, munde, tua.” (trans. " In the dark world's dominant empty pleasure on this train is unstable, shaking wanted to fire / Fraud, folly, and taking action. Glory passes into smoke harmonizes with yours.") (Note that my deciphering of the lettering may be flawed.)

Franken 1881 1337 (nr.6.) (Daniel Franken 1881, “L'oeuvre gravé des van de Passe”, Paris); Hollstein 851 (nr.6.) (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Transitus; woman going to throw a globe on a wheel-barrow into a hole, from which flames are sprouting; a jester with another globe; with four lines below; plate to a collection of 33 plates by Crispijn de Passe I or from his work-shop.1599”

Condition: crisp, well-inked and well-printed impression (undoubtedly a lifetime impression based on the strength of the printed lines and the still visible guidelines for the lettered text) backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, stains or foxing, but there is minor age toning and light handling marks).

I am selling this small and rare 17th century emblem print showing a woman and jester depositing globes of power into the flames as an allegory of the caducity of power for AU$220 in total (currently US$163.40/EUR139.26/GBP124.51 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this fascinating engraving from 1599 addressing the transitory nature of power, 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


To be very frank, I have not found any handy resources in my research of this print to speak confidently about the “true” allegorical meaning of what is signified. Nevertheless, I have no problem inventing what I believe is likely to be the expressed meaning of the image … but please be mindful that I may be VERY wrong.

The globe which the lady with the wheelbarrow is taking to what the British Museum advises is “a hole, from which flames are sprouting” (1873,0614.106) and the globe that the jester is rolling are traditional emblems of power. In the context of the portrayed landscape—everyday reality—I believe that the globes are cast as signifiers of worldly/temporal power. My reading of the destiny for these globes of everyday power is simply as a vanitas allegory: the futility of the pursuit of power.







Friday, 20 July 2018

A pair of William Unger’s self-portrait etchings, 1880/93


William Unger (aka Wilhelm Unger) (1837–1932)

Left image:
“Self-Portrait”, 1880, illustration to Philip Gilbert Hamerton’s (1834–1894) “Etching and Etchers” (1880 edition).
Etching on cream laid paper with margins (as published).
Size: (sheet) 29.2 x 21.4 cm; (plate) 20.4 x 12.7 cm
Condition: faultless impression with generous margins in near pristine condition (with an intrinsic—“naturally occurring”—thin spot in the laid paper towards the lower left centre).
The British Museum offers a description of this print:

Right image:
“Artist smoking the etching plate” (descriptive title only), c1892–94, in-text illustration to “Die vervielfältigende Kunst der Gegenwart” (volume 3?), trimmed without the text line: “Original-Radirung von W Unger.”
Etching with aquatint and roulette on wove paper trimmed within the platemark and backed on a support sheet.
Size: (re-margined support sheet) 29.8 x 24.5 cm; (sheet) 11.6 x 7.9 cm
Condition: crisp impression trimmed within the platemark and remargined with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this pair of original etchings by William Unger for AU$200 (currently US$147.53/EUR126.49/GBP113.10 at the time of posting 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 pair of self-portrait etchings by Unger, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


These prints have been sold











For those wondering about the portrayed technique of the artist adding a layer of soot to his etching plate so that he—I believe that this is a self-portrait of William Unger—will be able to see the gleam of copper through blackened etching ground when it is inscribed, I have extracted the following instructions by George T Plowman (1914) from his amazingly clear treatise, “Etching and Other Graphic Arts” (New York, John Lane Company):

“To smoke the plate use a bundle of twisted wax tapers. Let the plate get cold before smoking on account of the danger of burning the ground. In smoking, hold the plate face downward by the hand-vise high above the head Pass quickly backward and forward the lighted tapers. Be careful to smoke the edges. The centre will get enough smoke in covering the edges. Be very careful not to burn the ground either by stopping too long in one place or getting the taper too near the plate. The flame, but not the wick, should touch the ground. A little practise will enable the beginner to get a beautiful, dull back surface, like polished ebony, all over the plate. If you find any parts that are not smooth and are grey and shiny, the ground has been burned, and you must wash it all off with turpentine and begin again, since burned ground will not resist the acid.” (Plowman, pp. 89–90).







Thursday, 19 July 2018

Jules Dupré’s lithograph, “Bank of the Somme (Picardy)”, 1836


Jules Dupré (1811–1889)

“Bank of the Somme (Picardy)” (aka “Bords de la Somme [Picardie]”), 1836, published in “L’Artiste” in Paris (1836, series 1, vol. XII, p. 120), printed by Benard et Frey.

Lithograph on wove paper, signed with the artist’s initials on the plate, trimmed with small margins around the image borderline and retaining the lettered title and publication details, backed on a support sheet.
Size: (support sheet) 27.7 x 34.3 cm; (sheet) 17 x 23.5 cm; (image borderline) 13.7 x 21.3 cm
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (lower left corner) “J.D”
Lettered on plate above the image borderline: (centre) “L’ARTISTE”
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Jules Dupré”; (centre) “Bords de la Somme, / (Picardie)”; (right) “Lith. de Benard et Frey.”
State i (of ii) before the change of the publication to, “Souvenirs d’artistes”, printed above the image borderline at left, and the addition of, “Jules Dupré del., et lith., Imp. Bertauts, Paris.", below the borderline at right.

Melot 1981 Du 6.1 (Michel Melot 1981, “Graphic Art of the Pre-Impressionists”, New York, Abrams, p. 285); Delteil 1906 no. 6, State i/ii (Loys Delteil 1906–1926, “Le peintre-graveur illustre.” 31 vols. Paris); Hédiard 1903 6 (Germain Hédiard n.d. “Les Maȉtres de la Lithographie”).; Aubrun 1974 7 (Marie-Madeleine Aubrun 1974, “Jules Dupré, 1811–1889, catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, dessiné et grave”, Paris, L Laget)

An excellent description of this print is offered by “Art of the Print”:
See the brief description of this print at the National Gallery of Art, Washington: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.58109.html

Condition: faultless impression in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing). The sheet is trimmed with small margins around the text and image borderline and is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this first state, rare lithograph—mindful that Dupre executed only ten litho plates in total—for AU$169 (currently US$124.41/EUR107.15/GBP95.62 at the time of posting 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 masterpiece of 19th century romanticism—a poetic vision of landscape with clear links to Constable—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


When I look at this deeply poetic landscape by Dupré, I am reminded of Constable’s images of landscape that are full of light and air. Certainly, Dupré’s trees have room for the birds to fly through like Constable’s trees, but I also see the way that light seems to flicker in the foliage of Dupré’s trees in a similar way to Constable’s touches of white designed to replicate the glistening effect of water droplets on leaves.

There are, of course, significant differences of mindset separating Dupré’s and Constable’s visions of landscape. Dupré’s landscapes were more mindscapes—concoctions evolved from thinking and conceptualised experiences. By contrast, Constable’s landscapes were rooted in sensory personal experiences of working outdoors with an interest in keeping the spirit of the experienced moment alive.







Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Harmen Jansz. Muller’s engraving, “Judah gives Tamar his Signet Ring”, c1566


Harmen Jansz. Muller (1540–1617)

“Judah gives Tamar his Signet Ring” (aka “Judah Giving Tamar the Pledge”), 1564–68, after a drawing by Maarten van Heemskerck (aka Maarten van Veen; Martin Heemskerk) (1498–1574), plate 1 from the series of 4 engravings, “History of Judah and Tamar”, published by Claes Jansz. Visscher (II) (1586–1652) in Amsterdam (1643–46).

Regarding the publication of this print, the Rijksmuseum offers the following insight:
(transl.) “Print possibly used in: Piscator, Nicolaus Johannes. Theatrum biblicum hoc est Historiæ sacræ Veteris and Novi Testamenti tabulis æneis expressæ. Amsterdam: Claes Jansz. Visscher, 1643. Or in: Schabaelje, Jan Philipsz. The big fig-bibel. That is an image and vivid display, of all the foremost histories of the gantscher Heyliger Schrift, in beautiful copere figueren (...) enriched with learning about the selve figuring. Alkmaar: Simon Cornelisz Brekegeest, Amsterdam: Jan Philipsz. Schabaelje, 1646.” (RP-P-1904-3343)

Engraving on fine laid paper watermark (“Arms of Amsterdam”?) and faded handwritten notes in brown ink by an old hand in lower margin, backed with a support sheet.
Numbered on plate at upper left: "1"
Inscribed on plate within and along the lower image borderline; (right of centre right) “1”; (right corner) “Meemskerck In. / [interlaced monogram of Harmen Jansz. Muller] HMVL fe, [interlaced monogram of Claes Jansz. Visscher] CJVißcher excu”
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: “IVDAS ET THAMAR COEVNT PROMITTITVR HOEDVS ANNVLVS, ARMILLÆ, ATQVE PEDVM PRO PIGNORE DANTVR. / Genesis 38.15.”
Size: (unevenly trimmed sheet) 29 x 32.5 cm; (plate) 21 x 25 cm; (image borderline) 19.7 x 26.2 cm
State iv (of iv) with the addition of the plate number repeated at the upper left corner (see the Rijksmuseum for state iii (RP-P-1904-3343)

New Hollstein Dutch 5-4 (4) (Harmen Jansz. Muller); New Hollstein Dutch 39-4 (4) (Maarten van Heemskerck) (FWH Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts ca. 1450-1700”, Amsterdam)

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print (state iii):
(transl.) “Under a tree the veiled Tamar is sitting with her father in law Judah, who does not recognize her and thinks she is a prostitute. He gives her his signet ring and staff as collateral for the goat with which he will pay her. On the right in the background the sheep and shepherds of Judah and on the left a city. At the bottom of the margin a verse in Latin.”
See also the description of this print (state i) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/632498

Condition: crisp impression with no signs of wear to the plate and the sheet has no foxing or significant stains within the image area, but there is a tear at the lower edge that is not perfectly closed and the margin area shows signs of use (i.e. minor marks/stains). The sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper to address the tear. There are (antique and faded) brown ink handwritten notes by a past collector in the lower margin (recto).

I am selling this exceedingly rare print executed by the father of Jan Harmensz. Muller for AU$233 (currently US$171.49/EUR147.51/GBP131.57 at the time of posting 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 fascinating scene of a father-in-law mistaking his daughter-in-law for a prostitute, 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


When I was examining this engraving the thought occurred to me: how would I illustrate a scene where a father-in-law mistakes his daughter-in-law for a prostitute and proceeds to engage her services by giving the ravishing daughter-in-law his signet ring—a ring that would fall off most chap’s finger it is so large!—along with his staff as collateral for a pending payment of a goat for her capitulation in delighting her father-in-law? Well, I guess that Muller’s engraving comes close to what my exploding brain could concoct. This is such a bizarre story!

For those who wish to know the “proper” story of Judah and Tamar in the Old Testament, (“Genesis” 38:12–23; and specifically 38:15) the following extract (Contemporary English Version) may be helpful:

“15 When Judah came along, he did not recognize her because of the veil. He thought she was a prostitute
16 and asked her to sleep with him. She asked, ‘What will you give me if I do?’
17 ‘One of my young goats,’ he answered.
‘What will you give me to keep until you send the goat?’ she asked.
18 ‘What do you want?’ he asked in return.
‘The ring on that cord around your neck,’ was her reply. ‘I also want the special walking stick you have with you.’ He gave them to her, they slept together, and she became pregnant.”

One feature of Muller’s composition (after van Heemskerck) that I find especially interesting is the representation of the tree shading the couple. It is so lumpy! This curious choice of a tree, of course is symptomatic of Muller’s Mannerist “lobulated” style (i.e. a style consisting of lumps like earlobes), but I must say that I wonder where this aesthetic love of lumpiness originated.







Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Crayon-manner stipple engraving (early 1800s?) by an unidentified printmaker after Raphael


Unidentified engraver with the initial letters “Ruifs …” (as inscribed on plate)

“Head of boy facing to the right while holding a casket” (descriptive title only), early 1800s (?), after a drawing by Raphael.

Crayon-manner stipple engraving on watermarked laid paper, backed on a support sheet and trimmed within the image borderline with the lower text line truncated.
Sheet: (unevenly trimmed) 33.2 x 25.1 cm
Lettered on plate below the image: (trimmed/truncated text) “… [D]ef[s?]sine d’après les Cartons de Raphael, par [F?]. Ruif[s?]s …’

Condition: trimmed well within the image borderline and backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in a heavily restored condition, but the spots of restoration (holes and stains) are not very evident.

I am selling this supremely beautiful but significantly trimmed engraving after a drawing by Raphael, for AU$113 (currently US$83.72/EUR71.47/GBP63.40 at the time of posting 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 marvellous portrait of a young boy that seems to glow with youthful innocence and joy, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This beautiful engraving is a mystery to me. The critical information giving the name of the printmaker who executed it has been trimmed leaving only the initial letters of the name: “Rui …” or perhaps “Ruifs …”. One piece of background that I can speak with certainty is that the composition is based on a drawing by Raphael—or more precisely, what is termed a “cartoon”, in the sense that the original drawing was designed as a preliminary image for transferring to another artwork such as a fresco or tapestry.

Regarding the date of the print, again I can offer some degree of certainty in that the method of stipple engraving, termed the “crayon-manner”, was arguably first pioneered by Gilles Demarteau in around 1756. Consequently, this print must have been executed after that date. The date of the first crayon manner stipple engravings is also significant in another way: it marked the approximate beginning of the manufacture of wove paper (i.e. paper that does not show chain lines when held to the light). As this print is on laid paper rather than wove paper this suggests that the impression is likely to be taken around the early 1800s.