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Tuesday 27 December 2016

Cornelis Bloemaert’s engraving, “Iphis” after the design by Abraham van Diepenbeeck

Cornelis Bloemaert (1603–92) and Theodor Matham (aka Dirk Matham) (1605/1606–76) (for the background)
“Iphis” (the suicide of the shepherd Iphis after rejection by Anaxarete), c.1635–38, after Abraham van Diepenbeeck (1596–1675), published in Michel de Marolles' (1600–81) “Tableaux du temple des muses tirez du cabinet de feu Mr. Favereau.” Paris: Antoine de Sommaville, 1655.”

Etching and engraving on fine laid paper with full margins as published.
Size: (sheet) 35.6 x 22.9 cm; (plate) 28.3 x 18.5 cm; (image borderline) 23 x 17.9 cm
Lettered below image with title and three lines of Latin from Ovid's Metamorphoses: "foribus laquei religavit vincula summis, / Inseruitq[ue] caput; sed tum quoq[ue] versus ad illam est, / Atq[ue] onus infoelix elisa fauce pependit. / Ouid. XIIII. Metam.".
Hollstein 34-93 (after Diepenbeeck) (Hollstein, F W H, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam, 1949); Hollstein 90-148; Roethlisberger 1993 CB11 (Roethlisberger, Marcel G; Röthlisberger, Marcel G, “Abraham Bloemaert and his sons: Paintings and prints”, 2 vols, Ghent, 1993)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Mythological scene with Iphis hanging himself at Anaxarete's door who did not answer his love, a garden beyond; after Abraham van Diepenbeeck; illustration on page 403 from Marolles' "Temple des Muses" (Paris, Nicolas Langlois: 1655). c.1635-1638. Etching and engraving”
The curator of the British Museum also advises: “This is one from a series of fifty-eight illustrations to Marolles' Tableaux du Temple des Muses' (Paris, 1655)” (

Condition: strongly-inked impression in marvellous, near pristine, condition.

I am selling this visually arresting image for a total cost of AU$147 (currently US$105.67/EUR101.09/GBP86.13 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this strong and even disturbing image that foretells the metaphysical images of Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978), 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 those images that makes viewers stop in their tracks. After accepting that one is looking at a chap hanging from a portico tympanum, the questions start to flood in: Is this a suicide or execution? If it is either of these options, where is the support that originally raised him so high? Why is he facing the wall? Why are his feet horizontally flat as if he is standing on the ground?

This print captures a peculiarly frozen moment: a moment where drapery can be blown in a breeze but everything else is still. From my way of looking at it, the image is like a precursor to the metaphysical images of Chirico or the noisy quiet of a René Magritte. The image is so full of intriguing unanswered questions..

For those who would like to have my beginning questions answered: the portrayed chap is Iphis, a shepherd, who has committed suicide after being rejected by the love of his life, Anaxarete. From an unreliable source, I understand that he committed suicide by standing on a block of ice that melted—this explains his horizontal feet and the lack of a means with which to raise himself far off the ground. Iphis has hung himself not facing a wall but rather the entrance to Anaxarete’s house so that when the love of his life opens the door she will fully appreciate the outcome of her failure to communicate with him. Sadly, Iphis' desire to teach Anaxarete a lesson that she would not forget was wasted as Anaxarete was not affected by his death. In fact, Anaxarete was so unmoved that the goddess Aphrodite turned her to stone. 

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