Saturday, 25 March 2017

Nicolaes Berchem’s etching, “The Resting Herd”, c.1652

Nicolaes Berchem (aka Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem; Niclas Berghem; Claes Berighem; Nicolaes Pietersz Berrighem) (1621/22–1683)
“The Resting Herd” (Le troupeau en repos), c.1652, from a series of five related plates featuring animals

Etching on fine laid paper trimmed at the platemark and lined on a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 26.5 x 21.2 cm
Signed in top right corner: "Berghem fe."
Numbered in the lower right corner: "3" (signifying the third plate in the series of five.)
State iii (of iii [?])

Hollstein 10.III (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam); Weigel 1843 297.10 (Rudolph Weigel 1843, “Suppléments au Peintre-Graveur de Adam Bartsch, Vol.I”, Leipzig); Dutuit 1881-5 I.36.10 (Manuel E Dutuit, “de l'Amateur d'Estampes”, 4 vols, Paris); Bartsch V.260.10 (Adam Bartsch 1803, ”Le Peintre graveur”, 21 vols, Vienna); TIB 7(5).10 (260) (Walter L Strauss 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Nretherlandish Artists”, vol. 5. p.55)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Plate 3: The Resting Herd. A herd of different animals (one cow, a horse, a donkey, three goats and three sheep) resting, a shepherd leaning on a stick to the left, trees and a wide landscape in the background; from a series of five prints showing animals Etching” (

Condition: crisp impression trimmed to the platemark and laid onto a conservator’s support sheet. The sheet is in excellent condition but I can see a few dot-size holes that are virtually invisible because the sheet is laid onto washi paper.

I am selling what is arguably Berchem’s masterpiece of etching—or at least one of his masterworks—for the total cost of AU$214 (currently US$162.97/EUR150.85/GBP130.45 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this truly magnificent print that lends an impression of grand scale to what is essentially a simple scene of rural life in the 17th century, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

To my eyes, Berchem’s prints embody a spirit of grandeur even when the subject is a simple rural scene like this one. In part, this grandeur—a notion which I will hesitantly define as a sense of bigness, in terms of scale, and objective formality—is related to the way in which Berchem composes his images. Essentially, Berchem’s compositions are designed to create the illusion of voluminous space where the portrayed subjects—in this scene: a mule, a horse, a cow, sheep, goats and a herdsman—have abundant room to move. 

The notion of grandeur also stems from the almost generic/classical way that Berchem represents his featured subjects. For instance, when he represents a mule, he ensures that the point of focus is on the mule’s large ears, or when he wishes to represent a horse he ensures that the focus is on its head and its mane. Following in this same selective process of focusing on key attributes, when Bechem rendered the cow in this remarkable scene of animal abundance, the focus is on its eyes—I personally love cow’s eyes so this choice of attribute makes complete sense to me. In short, Berchem portrays his subject matter with the aim of showcasing broad ideals about the forms represented so that trees and their foliage may not be about a particular tree but the essence of trees—the “treeness” of trees (to borrow a dollop of Platonism). 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Etching of an ostrich hunt from Tempesta’s circle of artists, c.1598

Unidentified artist from Antonio Tempesta’s (1555?–1630) circle of artists: Egbert Jansz., Johann Theodor and Johann Israel de Bry
“Chasse à L’Autruche” (Ostrich Hunt), c.1598 (the attribution of the date is based on the Egbert Jansz’ mirror-image copy of this print; see the Media Storehouse website:

Etching on fine laid paper trimmed to the platemark at the top and sides and with the lettered publication details removed and only the title retained below. The sheet has been laid on an early support sheet and lined again onto a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 8.9 x 12.6; (image borderline) 7.8 x 11.7 cm

Condition: good impression with the text lines partially removed and double lined on support sheets. Beyond the irregular cutting of the lower edge of the sheet the print is in good condition.

I am selling this small but extraordinary etching of an ostrich hunt for the total cost of AU$60 (currently US$45.82/EUR42.50/GBP36.67 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world when purchased with any other print.
If you are interested in purchasing this visually riveting print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Images of animals being hunted and killed are not something that I would normally collect as I find the subject personally distressing. Consequently, I needed to find a justification to appease my guilt in possessing this extraordinary print. Mindful that I could never genuinely justify wanting to look at animals—especially ostriches—being hunted I devised the following justification for other sensitive souls who would like this print but are similarly uneasy with the sad plight of the ostriches portrayed:

This print embodies the spirit of the time in which it was executed. In one sense it captures the spirit of Mannerism that Tempesta leaned towards; for instance, note the heightened theatrically in the representation of the foreground ostrich in its state of dreadful panic. In another sense, the image has many of the hallmarks of the Baroque spirit wherein interconnected spiralling rhythms make images come alive. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Goltzius’ engraving, “The Agony in the Garden”, 1597

Hendrik Goltzius (aka Hendrick Goltzius) (1558–1617)
“The Agony in the Garden”, 1597, from the series, “The Passion”
Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed at the platemark and lined onto a conservator’s support sheet.
Size (sheet) 20.2 x 13.6 cm
Lettered with monogram and dated in lower left: "A.o 97 / HG". Numbered in lower left: “2.”

New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 18 (Hendrick Goltzius); Hirschmann 1921 22; Hollstein 22.I; Strauss 1977 342; Bartsch III.20.28; TIB 3(3).28 (20) p. 35.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “Plate 2: Christ praying on the Mount of Olives at Gethsemane; an angel appears to Christ and addresses Him; in the foreground three of Christ's apostles are huddled together and fast asleep; beyond a contingent of soldiers emerge from a gateway at right. 1597 Engraving” (

The curator of the BM advises that there is a preparatory drawing for this print in Leipzig (Reznicek 34)

See also the copy of this print at the British Museum by Abraham Hogenberg (fl.1590–1656). Close comparison of this print with the copy and the original Goltzius held by the BM confirms that impression is from the hand of Goltzius.

Condition: crisp silvery impression with the lower right corner restored and a tear at the middle right side (now supported by the conservator’s sheet of fine washi paper upon which the whole print is laid). There is also minor areas discolouration towards the lower left corner.

I am selling this original engraving by Goltzius for the total cost of AU$440 (currently US$337.03/EUR312/GBP270.20 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing rare print from 1597 by one of the most famous printmakers of that time, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

In an earlier post also featuring a print by Goltzius—or more correctly, a print reproducing a Goltzius’ engraving by an unidentified printmaker—I lightly touched upon the mercurial element that distinguishes a copy from an original print. In this earlier post, I used the word, “life”, to describe this difficult to define element. What I meant by this vague term is the notion of “life” being an approximation for the visual expression of an artist’s spirit and personal vision embodied in the nuanced phrasing of each line (i.e. transitional changes in the thickness and shape of the line) and treatment of the portrayed subject.

In this original print by the hand of Goltzius, for instance, note how Goltzius portrays the sleeping figures (Jesus’ disciples) as if they are genuinely asleep as opposed to perfunctorily drawn models arranged to give the appearance that they are asleep. This projection of authenticity is not something that is simply about portraying the figures with their eyes shut. Rather, it’s about the way in which each mark is inscribed and the accumulative effect of line, tone and organisation that come together to express the notion of sleep. Note, for instance, the void of darkness surrounding the heads of the two further away disciples and the spiralling rhythms in figures’ poses that connote the state of sleep.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Felix Meyer’s etching of the Swiss landscape, c.1700

Felix Meyer (1653 - 1713)
"Path leading around a rocky outcrop with an overhanging tree and buildings in the distance" (descriptive title only), c.1670-1713, from the series, “Twelve Swiss landscapes.”

Etchings on fine laid paper with thread margins. Two early states taken from the same etching plate before it was lettered for publication.
Size: (plate) 10.4 x 12 cm
State i (of iii)
Hollstein 39 (F W H Hollstein 1954, “German engravings, etchings and woodcuts c.1400-1700”, Amsterdam); see also Holl. 36–47; resp. Le Blanc 10–21.

(Note: the almost identical landscape setting shown in the print, “Landscape with Three People”, that I discussed in the earlier post:

Condition: lifetime impressions trimmed close to the platemark. Both prints are in good condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, significant stains or foxing). The slightly lighter toned print is either an earlier state or the impression has been wiped too firmly resulting in some of the detail appearing faint.

I am selling this pair prints taken from the same etching plate for the total cost of AU$226 (i.e. the combined price of both prints) (currently US$174.76/EUR161.79/GBP140.17 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing these exceptional rare early impressions, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Initially, I imagined that I would have no difficulty in finding information about this etching. After all, Meyer is one of the major Swiss landscape artists at the turn of the 17th century and why wouldn’t there be a plethora of information waiting “out there” for me to discover? I was wrong. Not only is the easily sourced information about Meyer fairly fundamental—in the sense of giving a broad timeline for his practice without much elaboration—but even the main institutions (The British Museum, Rijksmuseum and the Met) had only meagre collections of his prints.

What I did discover from reading between the lines was that he had a nodding acquaintance with Georg Philipp Rugendas and Johann Melchior Roos (I have discussed both of these artists in a previous posts). Indeed, according to Michael Bryan (1816) "A Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Painters and Engravers”: “In company with Roos and Rugendas, he [Meyer] was indefatigable in designing the most picturesque views of Switzerland …” (p. 62).

This insight about his association with these artists made me stop and think and I can now see hints of shared interests between the artists. For example, I view Meyer’s virtually untouched/line-free sky area as relating to his peers’ use of similar large slabs of untouched paper. Moreover, I would have little difficulty in arguing that Meyer shares a similar approach to orchestrating pattern of lights and darks in his compositions.

Although this is a Swiss landscape, the design elements—landscape features that suggest a timeless state and a distant ruin—are much the same as those found in any idealised Italianate landscape of the 17th century, whether it was executed in Italy or in far-flung reaches of the Netherlands. Indeed, so widely spread was the love of such timeless landscapes that their construction was even formalised by Gerard de Lairesse (the head of the Amsterdam Academy) in 1707—even though he had never actually been to Italy.

Like all artists wishing to express the concept that an ideal landscape is timeless (amongst a host of other notions driving artists at this time) the key design elements—viz. a winding road, a rocky outcrop, trees and a distant ruin—needed to be set in place before the less important, superficial details were added to a composition.

For me this approach of laying down the fundamental design elements first is like Stephen Covey’s practical advice about how to fill a bucket with rocks and sand—an analogy used by Covey to explain best practice of prioritisation in management: one can fill a bucket properly by putting the big rocks into the bucket first and then add the sand later, but never the converse of putting the sand in first and adding the rocks later.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Unidentified engraver after Goltzius’ “Christ before Pilate”, 1596

Unidentified engraver after Hendrik Goltzius (aka Hendrick Goltzius) (1558–1617)
“Christ before Pilate”, 1596, from the series, “The Passion.”

Note: there are numerous copies of Goltzius’ prints made by his contemporaries. Some are in reverse (which this is not) and others are so well crafted that they are almost identical to the original and were published in Johannes Baptist Mayr’s “Hebdomada Sancta Viro Dolorum, et scienti infirmitatem...consecrata. Animae Poenitenti, devotae, amanti consideranda proposita,” Salzburg, 1677. My concern with this impression is that it does not have Goltzius’ monogram and I can see barely discernible initials at the lower right corner. Mindful of these issues, I believe that this impression is likely to be one of the excellent copies. (See an example of one of these copies made by Abraham Hogenberg [fl.1590–1656] held by the British Museum:

Engraving on fine laid paper, trimmed to the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 19.6 x 12.8 cm

New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 21 (Hendrick Goltzius); Hirschmann 1921 25; Hollstein 25.I; Strauss 1977 332; Bartsch III.20.31

Condition: crisp impression with a printer’s crease and trimmed to the image borderline. There is a restored loss at the upper right corner and there are remnants of mounting hinges (verso), otherwise the print is in good condition.

I am selling this marvellous etching after Goltzius for the total cost of AU$330 (currently US$255.27/EUR236.94/GBP205.52 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this finely executed engraving based on Goltzius’ design, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Although I have attributed this superb print to an unidentified engraver rather proposing that it is from the hand of the great master, Goltzius, when I compare Goltzius’ print with this copy of a Goltzius I am bedazzled how well executed this copy really is. What is most outstanding about it (presuming that this is an engraved copy rather than an original Goltzius engraving) is not so much that the reproductive engraver matched each line perfectly, but rather that the engraver managed to capture the slight nuances within each stroke that give the portrayed figures the mercurial element: life.  

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Three battle scenes after Tempesta’s etchings

Three Battle Scenes (1580–60) by an unidentified artist—perhaps Francesco Villamena (c.1565–1624) as the sensitivity of the execution has the hallmarks of this master who is known for his engravings after Tempesta but my quandary with attributing these prints to Villamena is that he was an engraver rather than an etcher and these prints are etchings—after Antonio Tempesta (1555?–1630), after Otto van Veen (1556–1629), from the series, published by Pierre Aubry (aka Peter Aubry II; Peter II Aubry (1596–66). I wish to tentatively attribute these battle scenes to Tempesta’s series, “The Deeds of Alexander the Great” as the lettered inscription above the image borderline refers to the “Book of Darium/Darius.” I doubt that these scenes were from his other famous battle series, "Batavorum cum Romanis Bellum" (Dutch Wars with Rome), as the chaps battling the Romans do not look like ancient tribal folk from the Dutch region … but to be very honest, I am not that familiar with the dressing habits of the early Dutch beyond knowing that their eyes twinkled when they wore clogs.

Note: the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have the middle panel showcased on their website but the information about the print is very thin and the artist is unidentified:

Etchings on fine laid paper trimmed at the platemark and lined on conservator’s support sheets.
Size of sheet: (upper panel) 10.5 x 21.7 cm; (middle panel) 10.5 x 22.3 cm; (lower panel) 12.1 x 17.5 cm

Upper panel is lettered with the publisher’s name: “P. A. Ex.”
Lower panel is lettered above the image borderline: “Der heft beiveinet Darium, …” (The book of Darium?)
Lower panel is lettered below the image borderline in two line columns: “Repperit inunda Macedo sub pello darium … uestyt ostro” and numbered at lower right corner, “9”.

Condition: marvellous impressions—perhaps even faultless—trimmed and laid upon conservator’s support sheets. All sheets show yellowing to the paper but otherwise they are in superb condition.

I am selling this set of three exceptionally fine etchings after Tempesta (presumably by Francesco Villamena) for the total cost of AU$220 (i.e. the combined price of the set of three) (currently US$157.83/EUR157.83/GBP136.60 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing these early 17th century old-master etchings epitomising the spirit of the Baroque period, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Although these very sensitively executed etchings have yellowed with time, to my eyes the paper’s golden glow adds a special historical dimension to the ancient battles portrayed. Going further, it also lends a sense of intimacy and a feeling of turmoil to the scene that other colours (e.g. a cool blue) are unlikely to evoke. Of course, each viewer responds to colours differently but this particular colour bias with all its associations of warmth and energy “works” at a subliminal level.

Regarding the composition, the upper two panels with all of the spiralling rhythms connecting the figures in the battles are perfect showcase images exemplifying the exuberance of the Baroque age when the prints were created. If I may point out just the tiny detail in the lower panel of a gesturing figure set behind the foreground horse on the far left, the small hand gesture is also a good example of how very small details contribute to the much larger feeling of energy underpinning the whole scene. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Fabrizio Chiari’s etching, “Venus and Apollo”, 1636, after Poussin

Fabrizio Chiari (aka Fabrizio Claro; Fabritius Clarus) (c.1615–95)
“Venus and Mercury”, 1636, after Nicolas Poussin’s (1594–1665) painting of the same name that is now sectioned with the left side held in Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, and the right side held in the Louvre, Paris.

Etching printed with grey ink on buff coloured laid paper, trimmed to the image borderline and lined onto a conservator’s support sheet and laid on heavy wove paper (Dutch Etch).
Size: (sheet) 29.2 x 39.8 cm

Inscribed with the artist’s name and dated on the tablet at lower left: “FABRITI / CHIARVS / ex 1636"
Inscribed with the inventor’s name on the open book at the lower left centre: “NICOLAIS / PVSSIN / VS / IN”

Wildenstein 1955 121.I (Georges Wildenstein 1955, “Les Graveurs de Poussin au XVIIe siècle”, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, XLVI, Paris); Andresen 1863 348.I (A. Andresen 1863, “Nicolaus Poussin - Verzeichniss der nach seinen Gemälden Gefertigten...”, Leipzig); LeBlanc 2 (Ch. Leblanc 1854 [-89], “Manuel de l'amateur d'estampes, contenant un dictionnaire des graveurs de toutes les nations …”, dl. 2, p. 11, 2).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Venus and Mercury, after Poussin: Venus, reclining beneath clump of trees, with Mercury seated at her side, at left; at their feet, Cupid wrestling a young satyr; at right, group of five putti singing and playing music. 1636 Etching”

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print (note that there is an anomaly in the description of this print with that offered by the BM):
“Venus and Mercury are in a landscape. In the foreground is a putto in a fight with a young satyr. A putto with two wreaths in his hands watching. Left, a group of music-making putti. In the foreground on the right a lute.” (

Condition: good impression but with numerous restorations and replenishing of losses, trimmed at the image borderline and laid on two conservator’s support sheets.

I am selling this softly glowing etching for the total cost of AU$145 (currently US$111.70/EUR104.02/GBP90.03 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this rare old-master print and an important historical document of a Poussin painting that is now only to be seen in pieces, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This etching is a curious print that I have not completely come to terms with.

First, it is printed in a cool grey ink on warm grey toned paper. Second, and the most curious issue for me, the description of the copy that the British Museum holds advises that “… at right, group of five putti singing and playing music.” The BM does not post an image of their print but this description fits perfectly with the print that I’m showing here … but there is a perplexing problem: the Rijksmuseum shows the print in reverse and describes their print with the music-making puttie as being on the left. Neither august institution is likely to be wrong as both mirrored impressions are identical (i.e. neither is a copy) but why is there this anomaly?

In a way, my first conundrum about the grey toning of the print is probably the answer. This and the copy in the BM (which I am unable to see to confirm my thoughts) is a counterproof (i.e. a print taken from the “original” etching when it was still sticky and wet after being pulled from the press by placing the original etching onto second sheet of paper and rolling both sheets back through the press to create a mirror image of the original on the second sheet). This would account for the grey appearance of the print. Do I know for sure? No I don’t as the impression shown here is trimmed at the image borderline but before the platemark that would have shown that it is in fact a counterproof. Moreover, the print has been beautifully restored and in the process of this restoration the surface of the print is fattened and so “tell-tale” signs of embossing from the etching plate are not evident.

For those interested in the portrayed subject of this print, the Dulwich Picture Gallery which holds the left section of Nicholas Poussin’s painting, “Venus and Mercury” (1627–29)—this etching shows Poussin’s complete design before the painting was “sliced and diced” leaving the right portion now in the Louvre—offers the following excellent explanation: “Venus and Mercury, the goddess of Beauty and the Protector of the Arts, watch over two wrestling putti, Eros (spiritual love), and the goat-legged Anteros (sexual love). The lute, palette, musical score and caduceus (symbol of eloquence) beside Mercury confirm the reading of this scene as the victory of the higher, spiritual satisfactions over earthly gratifications.” (

Contrary to this explanation by the Dulwich Picture Gallery (viz. the composition concerns the ascendancy of love over all things—“omnia vincit amor”), the DPG also proposes that the subject may be instead an “allegory of the antagonism between spiritual and sensual love.” (op. cit.)

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Simon Frisius’ etching, “Forest landscape with ruins hidden behind trees”, 1613/14

Simon Frisius (aka Simon Wynhoutsz Frisius; Simon de Vries) (c.1580–1628)
“Boslandschap met ruïne verborgen achter bomen” (Forest landscape with ruins hidden behind trees), 1613/14, after Matthijs Bril (c.1550–83), published by Hendrick Hondius I (1573–1650) in “Topographia Variarum Regionum” (Various topographical views) (1613/14). 
See this publication at the Rijksmuseum:  

Etching on fine wove paper trimmed irregularly at or within the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 10.1 x 14.5 cm
Lettered below the image borderline: “Mabias bril inventor. Henricus hondius excudit.”
State i (of iii)

Hollstein 1-25 (after Matthijs Bril); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 142.I (Simon Frisius); Hollstein 64-91 (under Simon Frisius)

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“Twee mannen staan langs een bosrand. Zij kijken naar een ruïne die, rechts, half verborgen is achter de bomen.” (Two men standing along a forest edge. They look at a ruin, right, is half hidden behind the trees.) (

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“View of a huge gnarled tree set before some ruins, figures in the foreground, after Matthijs Bril. 1613/1614” (

The curator of the BM advises that the publication “’Topographia Variarum Regionum’ consists of “a series of twenty-seven etchings by Frisius after Matthijs Bril (New Hollstein 123-150) of small landscapes, which was published in 1614 by Hendrick Hondius. One print after Joos van Lier has been added to the series. The prints are inlaid into double sheets and the series is bound in an album with a gold tooled vellum binding that seems to be seventeenth-century.” (,0319.7.&page=1 )

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with areas of wear, trimmed irregularly at, or slightly within, the image borderline in near pristine condition.

I am selling this small but remarkable etching for the total cost of AU$242 (currently US$185.69/EUR172.33/GBP150.19 at the time of posting this) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this seldom seen marvellous old-master print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

In previous posts showcasing prints by this remarkable old master I discussed Frisius’ skill as a calligrapher. I also touched upon his feat of amazing technical virtuosity in that his published manual for calligraphers which relies upon etchings as illustrations are all executed as faux engravings (i.e. Frisius faked the “look” of engravings using an etching needle).

For me, Frisius’ leaning to calligraphy is revealed in his treatment of the rocky outcrop in terms of the care that he has taken to give flow to the rhythm of the contour lines as they pictorially sculpt the form of the hillock. This is not to say that such care is not to be seen in many other artists’ attention to tight alignment of their strokes when laying contour lines, but rather that Frisius seems to enjoy creating complexity through the continuation of his strokes as a rhythm from the top of the rocky mound to the bottom.