Sunday, 24 September 2017

Engraving by an unidentified artist showing a scribe at work


Unidentified artist
“Scriba doctus in regno caelorum”, 16th century?

Illustration for the verse from Matthew 13:52: “And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’” (Ait autem illis: “Ideo omnis scriba doctus in regno caelorum similis est homini patri familias, qui profert de thesauro suo nova et vetera”.)

Engraving on early laid paper trimmed to the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 9.4 x 4.9 cm
Lettered in the plate below the image: “Scriba doctus in regno caelorum.” (Transl. “Scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven.”)

See British Museum description of this small etching:

Condition: crisp impression, trimmed at the image borderline with a small restored loss at the lower right corner and age toning to the sheet.

I am selling this small engraving by an unidentified printmaker (see the British Museum’s description of this print, museum no. 1958,1006.2902) illustrating verse 13:52 from the Gospel of St Matthew concerning the value of scribes in disseminating knowledge, for the total cost of AU$88 (currently US$70.16/EUR58.69/GBP51.99 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this marvellous image of an early scribe with the clear symbolism of time in the form of a clock hanging above him on the wall, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


In terms of what sways me to propose the sixteenth century as a rough guide to the date of this print, my justification is all the style employed in rendering the image. For instance, the formatting of the composition seems credible for the 16th century in the sense that the scribe is set within the symmetry of an arched niche with decorative rosettes above the arch and the frame of the arch is rendered with the mechanical precision of horizontal parallel lines. Moreover, the stylistic conventions employed in the rendering of the illustration seems appropriate for the 16th century as exemplified by the use of dots within the parallel lines inscribed in the background, the elevated viewpoint and the flattening of pictorial space created by the “quick” gradation towards a darkened background.

If I were very knowledgeable about men’s fashion—which sadly I am not—I would speak with great precision about the distinctive attributes of the costume worn by the scribe. As my knowledge about such details is flimsy to say the least, I can only propose that the scribe “appears” be wearing an Elizabethan period outfit with the typical ruff around his neck and copotain-style hat with rounded brim and tall rounded crown.

(Note: if there are knowledgeable folk willing to offer advice about the period style of the chap’s outfit then my quest for an accurate attribution of the period will be complete.) 



Wenzel Hollar’s etching, “Elderly bald man looking down after Leonardo", 1648


Wenzel Hollar (aka Wenceslaus Hollar; Václav Hollar) (1607–77)
“Head and bare, sinewy neck of a bald man”, 1648, after a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) in the Royal Collection at Windsor (RL 19003 recto) from the series of “Caricatures and deformities after Leonardo” (Pennington, 2002, cat. nos. 1558–1610B)

Etching on wove paper.
Size: (sheet) 12.3 x 10.7 cm; (plate) 6.8 x 4.7 cm
Inscribed within the plate: “Leonardo / da Vinci inu: / WHollar fec. / 1648.”
Nineteenth-century impression of the only state (?). I understand that there were three early editions published in Antwerp of the series of which this plate features—but without the creation of fresh states: 1645 (this edition may not have included this plate as it was executed in 1648), 1648, and 1666.

Pennington (2002) 1578; New Hollstein (German) 1018 (Hollar)

Richard Pennington (2002) offers the following description of this print in “A descriptive catalogue of the etched work of Wenceslaus Hollar 1607–1677”, Cambridge University Press:
“Bust almost full face of bald elderly man looking down. He is clean-shaven and the bones and sinews of neck and chest are very prominent.” (p. 288)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Head and bare, sinewy neck of a bald man, directed to left, head tilted to look down; after Leonardo da Vinci. 1648” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3491378&partId=1&searchText=hollar+1648&page=1)

Condition: well-printed impression on laid paper with signs of wear to the plate. The sheet is in pristine condition with generous margins (varying in width but approximately 3 cms).

I am selling this exquisite etching by one of the greatest printmakers of history, Wenzel Hollar, reproducing a drawing by one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, for the total cost of AU$98 (currently US$78.13/EUR65.36/GBP57.90 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this small and historically influential print that showcased Leonardo’s drawings to 17th century artists, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


What may come as surprise regarding this etching and others by Hollar after drawings by Leonardo is that—according to the distinguished writer, Sir Kenneth Clark, in “A catalogue of the drawings of Leonardo … at Windsor Castle, Cambridge”, 1935, the vol. of text, Appendix B, p. xlvii—the “drawings are so repulsive to us were yet the first of Leonardo’s drawings to be appreciated in the seventeen and eighteenth centuries” (Pennington 2002, p. 272). This view of these prints by Hollar is shared by Richard T Godfrey (1994) in "Wencelaus Hollar: A Bohemian Artist in England” who proposes that “Leonardo’s drawings of grotesque heads are not in the strict sense caricatures; nonetheless, through the intermediary of Hollar’s prints, they exerted enormous influence of the development of the caricature in England in the eighteenth century” (p. 100).



Saturday, 23 September 2017

Wenzel Hollar’s etching, “Woman with Pointed Black Head-dress”, 1648


Wenzel Hollar (aka Wenceslaus Hollar; Václav Hollar) (1607–77)
“Woman with Pointed Black Head-dress”, 1648, from the series of “Women’s Portraits in Ovals” (Pennington, 2002, cat. nos. 1725–31)

Etching on fine laid paper trimmed along (or slightly within) the plate mark.
Size: (sheet) 11.9 x 9.4 cm; (oval image borderline) 10.9 x 9 cm
Signed and dated outside oval at top right: “WHollar delineavuit / et fecit, 1648.”
Lifetime impression of the only state. (Note: Pennington advises that “Bor. [FA Borovsky] creates a second state from a supposed darkening of shadows under the chin—but erroneously.” [p. 288])

Pennington (2002) 1730; Parthey 1730; New Hollstein (German) 1025 (Hollar)

Richard Pennington (2002) offers the following description of this print in “A descriptive catalogue of the etched work of Wenceslaus Hollar 1607–1677”, Cambridge University Press:
“Bust, half l., eyes to front, in an oval, of a woman with fair hair hanging down on each side in ringlets and tied with black bows. She wears a dark cap on the back of her head, which tapers to a point on her forehead. A white shoulder wrap in three folds is held at her breast by a jewel inside a large black bow. Round her neck is a dark necklace from which hangs a cross.” (p. 288)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“A young woman with fair curly hair in ringlets, tied with black bows, shown nearly half-length to left, looking towards the viewer; wearing a small black kerchief on her head, necklace with cross pendant, white shoulder wrap fastened with jewel on bow, over dark laced bodice; in an oval, against dark background.” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3491429&partId=1&searchText=hollar+1648&page=1)

Condition: richly inked, crisp, lifetime impression in superb condition. The print is trimmed along (or slightly within) the image borderline and there is a minor chip to the upper right corner. There are inscriptions from previous collectors and remnants of mounting hinges (verso).

I am selling this exquisite etching by one of the greatest printmakers of history exemplifying his skill to use almost unbelievably fine moulding stokes for the total cost of AU$223 (currently US$177.79/EUR148.72/GBP131.74 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this small and exceptionally rare treasure of a 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


Hollar’s etchings are not only superb in terms of technical skill—a not surprising attribute given that he was apprenticed to the great Matthäus Merian (1593–1650)—but he was also a prolific printmaker with having executed over 2700 plates (this etching is number 1730 in his large oeuvre). Beyond his technical skill, Hollar is best remembered for chronicling 17th century England in terms of cityscapes and detailed renderings of buildings, but his expertise extends beyond such enterprises as he also created many portraits—such as this superb example—along with illustrations for books (including the Bible) and delicate studies of subjects like insects, plants, shells and women’s muffs.

The identity of the sitter of this portrait is not clear, nevertheless, according to Pennington (2002) the Burlington Fine Arts Club “identifies the portrait as that of the wife of Alexander Roelants … and says it is sometimes taken for Mary Beaumont, mother of the first duke of Buckingham” (p. 288). The earlier cataloguer of Hollar’s prints, Gustav Parthey, proposes that the sitter is the marchioness of Buckingham. To add further confusion, Pennington cites FA Borovsky in his book on Hollar (1898) as attributing the portrait—“unconvincingly” according to Pennington—to “Catherine Howard Grandchild to Tho. Earle of Arundel” (p. 289).






Thursday, 21 September 2017

Georg Pencz’s engraving, “Tactus” (Touch), c1544


Georg Pencz (c1500–50)
“Tactus” (Touch), c1544, Plate 5 from the series of five engravings, “The Five Senses”.

Engraving on laid paper trimmed along the image borderline with the text line, "SED ARANEA TACTU”, below the image borderline removed.
Size: 7.4 x 5.00 cm
Signed with the artist’s monogram, "PG", in the plate at upper centre and lettered "TACTUS" below the monogram.
Early impression (most likely a lifetime impression as there is no sign of wear to the plate)

TIB 16 (8) 109 (354) (Walter L Strauss & Jacob Bink et al [Eds.] 1980, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 16, p. 124); Landau 1978 108 (David Landau 1978, “Catalogo completo dell' opera grafica di Georg Pencz”, Milan); Hollstein 107 (F W H Hollstein 1954, “German engravings, etchings and woodcuts c.1400-1700”, Amsterdam); Bartsch VIII.355.109 (Adam Bartsch 1803, “Le Peintre graveur”, 21 vols, Vienna).
See also: Giulia Bartrum 1995, “German Renaissance Prints”, exh. cat., BM, London 1995, no.111e, p. 120.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Interior with a seated whole-length nude female figure weaving; a spider sitting in its web in the window at upper left; from a series of five engravings. c.1541” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1454209&partId=1&searchText=pencz+touch&page=1)

Condition: richly inked (lifetime?) impression in near faultless condition, trimmed along the image borderline and without the text line below. There are numerous inscriptions in pencil and ink and an ink stamp from previous collectors (verso).

I am selling this very small but exquisitely rendered engraving by one of the famous German Little Masters —the shared interest of the group in executing little prints is exemplified by this postage-stamp sized masterpiece—for the total cost of AU$400 (currently US$317.01/EUR265.02/GBP233.44 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this precious and exceptionally rare print that is the first visual expression in history of the sense of touch, 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


At first I was a baffled by the symbolic relevance of the spider featured at the upper left of this print, after all the print should be expressing what the title proposes: the sense of touch. After thinking about what a spider “does” stretched out on its web, however, the mystery was not really a mystery at all. I quickly realised that spiders rely on their sense of touch to alert them to when a potential dinner has tangled itself in the spider’s web. So sensible! I now love the idea of a spider as a symbol of touch sensitivity. Indeed, I think that a spider may be the best choice of all to symbolise the sense of touch.

Pencz’s choice of a spider is interesting as this engraving and the other plates from the same series are the first prints to showcase the five senses. Curiously, after the publication of this engraving, the symbols of touch focused more on turtles, snails and the loom—the latter features in this print. To be honest, I think Pencz’s choice of the spider is perfect and the relevance of the turtle and snail to symbolise touch seems quite tenuous to me. I can vaguely perceive the relevance of the turtle as a symbol of touch, as the texture of its shell has tactile appeal, but I struggle with a snail as an appropriate symbol—but I admit that I have no idea about what goes on in a snail’s head regarding a sense of touch as it slimes its trail over surfaces.







Benigno Bossi’s etching with dot-roulette, “Front facing portrait of a young girl wearing a scarf and with her right hand raised to her chin”, 1783


Benigno Bossi (1727–92)
“Front facing portrait of a young girl wearing a scarf and with her right hand raised to her chin” (descriptive title), 1783 (dated in the plate), plate 37 from the series of 49 plates (including the frontispiece and antiporta), “Raccolta di teste inventate, disegnate e incise da B. Bossi” (Transl. “Collection of heads created, drawn, and engraved by Benigno Bossi”), published by Gioachino Bettalli and C Cont.a of Capello (as noted on the frontispiece).

Etching with dot-roulette in the crayon manner printed in sanguine coloured ink on laid paper
Size: (sheet) 12 x 10.4 cm; (plate) 6.6 x 6.8 cm; (image borderline) 5.6 x 6.2 cm
Inscribed: (upper right) “37”; (lower left) “Bossi In. f. 1783”

LeBlanc 64-103; see also 'The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection: Italian and Spanish books, fifteenth through nineteenth centuries', National Gallery of Art, 2000, p.77f.

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with generous margins (varying from 1.5 cm to 2.9 cm) and in marvellous condition with only a few faint marks.

I am selling this small and remarkably sensitive portrait—a true treasure—for the total cost of AU$123 (currently US$97.51/EUR81.92/GBP72.38 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this small masterpiece executed in 1783, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This etching, like the previous Bossi etching (Plate 28) that I discussed a few posts ago, is also a part of his “Raccolta di teste” series of 49 plates. Whereas the previous print was executed midway through his artistic career in 1773, and was interesting to examine from that viewpoint, this print (Plate 37) was executed ten years later and may be viewed as exemplifying his fully matured style.

From my reading of this later print, Bossi no longer employs the same the range of different strokes of his earlier print (viz. squiggles, return strokes and faux bold strokes). Instead, his choice of rendering style is typified by a consistent use of parallel contour lines disposed at the same distance apart from foreground to background. The effect of this treatment lends the appearance of a single artistic vision where the artist’s style is does not change with each subject portrayed, unlike the former print with its range of strokes that are selected according to the “needs” of the subject. In short, Bossi’s style has evolved from a mimetic approach to drawing designed to impress a viewer with technical dexterity to a style where technical considerations is subservient to personal expressive needs. 





Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Jan Harmensz Muller’s reproductive engraving (1615-20) of Lucas van Leyden’s, “The Bearing of the Cross” (1521)


Jan Harmensz Muller (aka Jan Muller; Jan Harmensz. Muller) (1571–1628)

“The Bearing of the Cross” (Le portement de croix), 1615-20, after Lucas van Leyden’s (aka Lucas de Leyda Hollandus; Luca Dolanda) (c1494–1533) plate 9 of the same subject dated 1521 from the series of 14 plates, “The Passion after Lucas van Leyden”.

Note the BM holds Muller’s series of prints, “The Passion after Lucas van Leyden”; see: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx?searchText=1845,0809.944

Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed along or within the platemark.
Size: (sheet) 11.8 x 2.8 cm; (image borderline) 11.4 x 7.5 cm
Lettered with the letter "L" and date 1521 in lower right corner on a tablet

TIB (1981) 12 (7). 51-A (368) (p. 183); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 50.II (The Muller Dynasty [Jan Harmensz Muller]); Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 51 (Lucas van Leyden; copy); Bartsch III.279.50

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Christ carrying the cross; Christ at centre buckled to his knees under the weight of the cross as he walks to the right; Veronica kneels beside him to the left raising a cloth to wipe his face; St John and the Virgin Mary walk behind him and a crowd gathers beyond” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1487548&partId=1&searchText=leyden&page=5)

Condition: crisp and well-inked impression trimmed along or within the platemark, slightly aged-toned/yellowed with a chipped lower-left corner and attached at the top of the sheet to a support (wove) card.

I am selling this important engraving by one of the major Flemish old masters, Jan Harmensz Muller, reproducing in minute detail the engraving of the same subject by the almost legendary German printmaker, Lucas van Leyden, for the total cost of AU$430 (currently US$346.66/EUR288.77/GBP256.01 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this masterpiece of early 17th century reproductive engraving, 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 I fully understand the mindset of some collectors who would never consider acquiring prints reproducing other artist’s artworks, but I do not share this prejudice. After all, I originally purchased this print by the great Flemish master printmaker, Jan Harmensz Muller, who reproduced line-by-line the engraving by the great German printmaker, Lucas van Leyden, who originally composed the image.

Mindful that such a choice to collect reproductive prints might be deemed an unusual passion, I thought I might try to explain very briefly why some—and I need to stress the word “SOME”—reproductive prints are worthy of respect and close examination. Regarding this print, for example, a cursory glance may not distinguish between van Leyden’s print and Muller’s copy. They are almost identical. Close examination, however, reveals that van Leyden’s print has the searching authenticity of an artist finding appropriate ways to render the portrayed subject matter in the scene, whereas Muller’s copy offers a pictorially resolved and visually lucid representation of the same forms. For instance, note the difference in the representation of contour strokes rendering the detail of the metal plate protecting the ear of the figure on the far right. In van Leyden’s print the strokes are slightly ambiguous—sketchy—in describing this polished piece of armour. In Muller’s hands the phrasing of the lines is more resolved giving a pictorially clear representation of the metal plate’s concave contours.

My way of looking at the difference between a masterwork of reproductive engraving (such as this print) and the original is all about the way that the reproductive printmaker “feels” form in each line and gives clarity to visual expression. The best way that I can explain what I mean by this curious comment is to compare the approach to drawing a chair using the principles of perspective and drawing the same chair based on the knowledge that someone should be able to sit in the chair. Both drawings may be of the same subject but the drawing executed with the notion that someone should be able to sit in the chair will be invested with that special magic of authenticity and clear communication.







Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Benigno Bossi’s etching with dot-roulette, “Profile portrait of a man facing right”, 1773


Benigno Bossi (1727–92)
“Profile portrait of a man facing right” (descriptive title), 1773 (dated in the plate), plate 28 from the series of 49 plates (including the frontispiece and antiporta), “Raccolta di teste inventate, disegnate e incise da B. Bossi” (Transl. “Collection of heads created, drawn, and engraved by Benigno Bossi”), published by Gioachino Bettalli and C Cont.a of Capello (as noted on the frontispiece).

Note that the preliminary drawing for this print is held in the Museo Glauco Lombardi, Parma. Note also that some of the later prints in this series were after designs by Ennemond Alexandre Petitot (1727–1801) whereas this print is designed and inscribed solely by Bossi’s hand.

Etching with dot-roulette in the crayon manner printed in sanguine coloured ink on laid paper
Size: (sheet) 19.5 x 15.8 cm; (plate) 12.7 x 10.2 cm; (image borderline) 11.8 x 9.3 cm
Inscribed: (upper right) “28”; (lower left) “Benigno Bossi In. f. Parma 1773”

LeBlanc 64-103; Museo Glauco Lombardi, Parma, Inv. No. 7232 (etching); F Sandrini, ‎LF Schianchi and ‎P Sivieri 2003, “Museo Glauco Lombardi: Maria Luigia e Napoleone”, p. 117 (lo splendido Ritratto virile a sanguigna); see also “The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection: Italian and Spanish books, fifteenth through nineteenth centuries”, National Gallery of Art, 2000, p.77f.

Condition: richly inked, crisp and well-printed impression with generous margins (varying but approximately 3 cm) and in marvellous condition with only a few faint marks.

I am selling remarkably sensitive portrait, for the total cost of AU$159 (currently US$135.77/EUR113.27/GBP100.72 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this small masterpiece executed in 1773, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


Bossi’s “Raccolta di teste” series of 49 plates, of which this is plate 27, is almost a retrospective of the artist’s stylistic evolution from the earliest prints of the series executed in 1755 to the last ones printed in 1789. What makes this particular print most interesting is that it was created midway through his career. From my reading of his style at this juncture in his development, I wish to propose that he has retained many of the stylistic formulas of his artistic mentor, Dietricy (aka Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich) (1712–74). For instance, note the technique of using squiggles in the background to create a tonal gradation towards the face and the use of return strokes used in the lower left foreground to create a vignette. Looking beyond these traces of his mentor’s influence, what I see in this etching is an artist who is skilled at making subtle adjustments—for example, the tiny shifts in orientation of the hatched parallel lines in the background—to create an extremely refined portrait.






Monday, 18 September 2017

Carel van Mallery’s engraving, “The Roman Consul Attilius Regulus Fighting a Giant African Serpent”, 1596


Carel van Mallery (aka Charles de Mallery) (1571–1635?)
“The Roman Consul Attilius Regulus Fighting a Giant African Serpent” (aka “The Dragon Hunt”), 1596 (or a little later), from the series, “Hunting Parties” (aka “Venationes Ferarum, Avium, Piscium” (transl. “With wild beasts, birds, fish”), after Jan van der Straet (aka Joannes Stradanus; Ioannes Stradanus) (1523–1605), published by Philips Galle (1537–1612).

Note: the first edition of “Venationes Ferarum, Avium, Piscium” published by Galle comprised 43 unnumbered plates all engraved by 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 http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1619537&partId=1&people=93957&peoA=93957-2-70&page=1  and A. Baroni and M. Sellink, “Stradanus 1523-1605: Court artist of the Medici”, exh. cat. Groeningemuseum Brugge 2008–09, Turnhout, 2012, pp. 245–58, cat. nos. 32–49).

Engraving on laid paper with margins
Size: (sheet) 23.9 x 29.6 cm; (plate) 20 x 26.6 cm; (image borderline) 18.4 x 26.2 cm
Lettered within image borderline at lower edge: (left) “'Phls Galle excud.”; (right of centre) “Joan. Stradanus invent. Car. de Mallery sculp.”
Lettered below the image borderline: (left) “43”; (centre) two lines of Latin text arranged in two columns) “Attilius consul Romanus...tandem superavit.'; (right) “XV”.
State: ii (with the added numerals, “43” and “XV”; see the BM’s impression of the first state: 1901,0611.43)

New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 480.II (Johannes Stradanus); Baroni Vannucci 1997 693.43 (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:
“Plate 15, The Roman Consul Attilius Regulus Fighting a Giant African Serpent; the Consul and his army surround and attack the giant serpent, firing arrows from all directions” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1620262&partId=1&people=106252&peoA=106252-2-23&page=3)

Condition: crisp impression but with small abrasions (so small that they are almost invisible) and generous margins (approximately 1.5 cm). The sheet is in marvellous condition with only a few faint stains.

I am selling this exceptionally rare, engraving from the late 1500s for a total cost of AU$277 (currently US$221.78/EUR185.45/GBP163.86 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this ultimate fantasy from the 16th century of hunting a dragon, 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


The idea of slaying dragons is no doubt a dream mission in life for every noble knight. Certainly there is a long history of artists who have portrayed knights vanquishing them, especially the brutish dragon lanced by St George (see for example the paintings of this critter and its demise by Paolo Uccello, Vittore Carpaccio, Raphael, Edward Burne-Jones and Gustave Moreau).

What makes this version of a dragon hunt interesting for me is in part that this is not just any dragon. This is a giant African serpent/dragon—information helpfully supplied by the Latin inscription on the print. Central to my love of this dragon, however, is its forked tongue. More specifically, my eye is riveted to the tongue’s bent tip that is almost a match for the end of the arrow piecing through the dragon’s jaw from behind. Another fascinating feature captured in this representation of a dragon is the curiously ambiguous treatment of a distant tree in the shape of a spiky ball that I read as a fiery snort of dragon’s breath at the tip of its nose.

Unlike most other illustrations of chaps slaying dragons, I should also point out that this image is rare in that it is one of the few compositions where the viewer is psychologically protected from the menacing dragon’s writhing tail and gnashing jaws—I was going to write “teeth” until I realised that this dragon has teeth only on one side of its upper jaw—by a barrier of soldiers. This may seem like a somewhat minor compositional feature, but it is surprisingly very seldom employed in scenes with dragons.