Sunday, 31 December 2017

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

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 with narrow margins lined on an archival support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 21.5 x 29.3 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: marvellously crisp and well-printed impression with narrow margins. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, folds, abrasions or foxing) but there is a light brown stain in the narrow margin at the upper left and the lower left corner is slightly chipped. The sheet is laid onto a support sheet of washi paper.

(Note that this is the second impression of this marvellous print that I have listed and the earlier impression has been sold.)

I am selling this superb impression of a very rare print for the total cost of AU$430 (currently US$335.52/EUR279.79/GBP248.32 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)

Paolo Fidanza’s etching, “Life-size study of a head from Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’”, 1785

Paolo Fidanza (fl.1731–1785)

“Life-size study of a head from Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’” (descriptive title only), 1785, plate 14 in a series of 90 plates published by Bouchard & Gravier (fl.1750–89) in Volume 1 (of 2) of “Recueil De Têtes Choisies De Personnages Illustres Dans Les Lettres Et Dans Les Armes Exactement Dessinées Et Gravées De La Grandeur Des Originaux Par Paul Fidanza Peintre Romain D'Après Les Peintures De Raphaël D'Urbin Et Autres Grands Maîtres Existantes Au Vatican Et Dans Plusieurs galeries De Rome Ouvrage Contenant CLXXXX. Planches Tom. I. (II.)”

Etching on laid paper with full margins and centre crease (flattened) as published.
Size: (sheet) 35.4 x 46 cm; (plate) 26.8 x 37.3 cm
Inscribed on the plate: (upper left) “Tom I”; (upper right) “14”; (lower edge) “Testa incognita, che si vede frà Discepoli d’Archimede attenti alle Dimostrazioni Geometriche nella Scuola d’Atene. Di Rafaelle d’Urbino nel Palazzo Vaticano. Polo Fidanza del. ed inc.” (Gooble Transl. “Head incognita, which can be seen among Disciples of the Archimedes attentive to the Geometric Demonstrations in the School of Athens. Rafaelle d'Urbino in the Vatican Palace.”
Lifetime impression as published in 1785.

See The Royal Academy for a description of the volume in which this etching features:

Condition: crisp and well-inked impression in excellent/near pristine condition (i.e. there are no significant tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing, but there is a fine line from the original centre fold, which is now flattened and virtually invisible, and two specks of white in the printing have been restored).

I am selling this rare and large etching (note that it does not feature in any of the major museum online repositories) for the total cost of AU$172 (currently US$134.46/EUR112.03/GBP99.58 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this academic study after Raphael, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

By design, Fidanza planned this print to be the same size as one of the heads of the “discepoli d’Archimede” (disciples of Archimedes) from Raphael’s fresco, “Scuola di Atene” (The School of Athens), 1509–11. According to an earlier account of the process used by Fidanza published by “A Society of Gentlemen” in February 3, 1757 (see W Simpkin and R Marshall, “The Critical Review: Or, Annals of Literature, Volume 3”, p. 174), Fidanza’s approach to making copies was to oil a sheet of paper so that I would become transparent and to then use this transparent paper to trace a copy directly from the original. Heavens to Betsy! … No wonder the old frescoes have darken with time if they had oily copy sheets placed on them!

After comparing the original with the etching, however, I doubt very much that this process of tracing directly from the original actually happened as the etched image is not an exact copy of the Raphael’s original design at all. 

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Johannes Wierix’s engraving, “Antiochus' Army Killing the Jews during the Sabbath”, 1579

Johannes Wierix (aka. Jan Wierix) (1539–1620 [BM dates])

“L’épreuve du sabbat au desert” (Mauquoy-Hendrickx [cat. raisonné] title) (aka. “Antiochus' Army Killing the Jews during the Sabbath” (Met. title) 1579, plate 3 from the series of 8 plates, “Histoire des Machabées” (Mauquoy-Hendrickx title), after Gerard van Groeningen (fl.1550–1599), published by Gerard de Jode (1509/17–1591) in “Thesaurus Sacrarum Historiarum veteris testamenti, elegantissimis imaginabus expressum excellentissimorum in hac arte virorum opera: nunc primum in lucem editus” (Google Transl. “Treasure holy history of the Old Testament elegant imaginabor expressed in this excellent works of art, now for the first time to light”)

Engraving on fine laid paper printed in a warm-grey (brownish) ink with small margins.
Size: (sheet) 21.9 x 30.2 cm; (plate) 20.4 x 28.5 cm
Inscribed below the image borderline: “Ne sabatum violent abstinent praelio et munitionibus  Iacobitae: satius ducentes in simplicitate mori. quam praecepta dei sui transgredi / Machab: i. Cap: 2.” (Google transl. “Do not violate the Sabbath they abstain from the battle, and the strong holds, Iacobitae: leading us on to his integrity is better to die. How to go beyond the rules of its own”)
Numbered below the image borderline at right: “3”.
Note: only two plates in this series of eight engravings are signed: Plate 2 and Plate 8.
Lifetime impression; state i (of ii) before the addition of “38” in the verse (see Mauquoy-Hendrickx vol. 1, p. 8, no. 48 ii)

Mauquoy-Hendrickx 48 (Marie Mauquoy-Hendrickx 1978, “Les Estampes Des Wierix”, vol. 1, [ref.] p. 8, [Illustr.] p. 5); Hollstein 64.I (Wierix) (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam); NH (Groeningen) I.84.53 i/ii
Condition: crisp, well-printed, slightly silvery impression with small margins (varying between 5–10 mms). The lower left corner has an additional tab of paper attached and the sheet has signs of wear (i.e. there is a light surface patina of dust and age toning and there are minor chips, pencil marks at the top left and thin areas in the margin) otherwise the sheet is in good condition for its age (i.e. there are no significant tears, holes, folds, stains or foxing).

I am selling this masterpiece of early engraving for the total cost of AU$286 (currently US$223.58/EUR186.28/GBP165.59 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this exemplary image of the Baroque period style, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Should anyone be searching for an image that exemplifies extreme/“over-the-top” action, then this engraving would fit the description perfectly.

Johannes Wierix, who made the print, was as wild a man—I described him in a previous post as a “disorderly drunk who had a penchant for upsetting his employer by ‘losing’ himself at the local tavern and by pawning his engraving tools.” Indeed, mindful of his leaning towards disorderly behaviour, this very Baroque composition with its layering of convoluted rhythms seems very appropriate.

What I find especially interesting about all of the turmoil that he portrays is that within the disarray are recurrent themes that are arguably a part of Netherlandish interests at the time:

- the theme of vanitas (note the regenerating shoots arising from the “dead” tree in the foreground);

- the notion of Weltlandschaft/“World Landscape” (note the elevated panoramic viewpoint and fascination with caves); and,

- a love of rugged terrain (note the incredibly sharp pointy mountains in the distant left).

Friday, 29 December 2017

Cornelis Cort’s engraving, “Hercules Defeating the Hydra of Lerna”, 1563

Cornelis Cort (1533–1578)

“Hercules Defeating the Hydra of Lerna”, 1563, from the series of ten plates (see BM nos. F,1.277–286), “The Labours of Hercules” after lost paintings by Frans Floris (aka Frans Floris van Vriendt) (1519/1520–1570), published by Julius Goltzius (fl.1555–1601) (as inscribed on the plate), c1595, in Antwerp.

Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed with narrow margins on the sides and bottom and along the plate mark at top.
Size: (sheet trimmed unevenly) 22.3 x 29 cm; (plate) 22.2 x 28.4 cm; (image borderline) 21.5 x 28.4 cm
Inscribed on the plate within the image borderline at lower edge: (centre-left) “5”; (centre) “Cor. Cort. fec.”; (centre-right) “franciscus floris / inventor / Goltzius. excu.”
State iv (of iv?) with the addition of the artist’s name and change of publisher from Hieronymus Cock to Julius Goltzius.

New Hollstein Dutch 176-4 (4) (Manfred Sellink [comp.] Huigen Leeflang [ed.] 2000, “The New Hollstein: Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450–1700” , Part 3, p. 31, cat. no. 176); Bierens de Haan 1948 176 (JCJ Bierens de Haan 1948, “L'oeuvre gravé de Cornelis Cort, graveur hollandais 1533–1578”, The Hague); Van de Velde 1975 50 (Carl Van de Velde 1975, “Frans Floris [1519/20–1570], Leven en Werken”, 2 vols, Brussels); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 71.III (Frans Floris); Riggs 1977 78 (Timothy Riggs 1977, “Hieronymus Cock, Printmaker and Publisher”, New York, Garland Press).

Condition: crisp impression trimmed on the platemark at the top edge and with narrow margins on the sides and bottom. The sheet is in excellent condition for its age (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing but there are very minor signs of handling visible verso).

I am selling this visually stunning engraving from the Renaissance era for the total cost of AU$276 (currently US$215.44/EUR179.96/GBP159.66 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this fabulous print seldom seen on the art market, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This is such a bizarre image. For those unfamiliar with the twelve “The Labours of Hercules”, this scene shows Hercules in his second “labour”/trial in the act of bashing heads from the mythological creature, the Hydra of Lerna, like a star baseball player. At this precise moment in the action, Hercules has just lopped off one of the Hydra’s nine heads—the exact number varies with who is telling the story (but I like things with nine heads). Nothing is easy for Hercules. I understand that when he knocks off a head with his club another two heads appear in its place. If that wasn’t a problem in itself, the breath of this critter is also poisonous and its blood is so awfully smelly that the stench is hazardous to poor Hercules health. Fortunately, Hercules is aided by his nephew, Iolaus, who cauterized the neck of the monster when a head is removed and thus, in collaboration, they subdue it. To add further excitement to Hercules’ battle with the Hydra, Juno—a goddess who harbours a strong dislike for Hercules and his manly ways—decides to send a squadron of crabs to bite his toes. (ooch!)

For those unfamiliar Frans Floris who designed this composition, according to the British Museum’s bibliographical details about this artist, he is famous “for his heroic feats of drinking.” Interesting, Floris was able to condense the “Twelve Labours of Hercules” to just ten.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Johann Christian Reinhart’s etching, “Der Stier vor der Fontäne”, 1812

Johann Christian Reinhart (1761–1847)

“Der Stier vor der Fontäne” (The bull in front of the fountain), 1812, from “Die zweiteThierfolge” (Second series of depictions of animals).

Etching on buff coloured laid paper with wide margins (as published?) lined onto an archival support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 34.2 x 26.1 cm; (plate) 20.9 x 14.8 cm; (image borderline) 19.4 x 13.5 cm
Inscribed on the plate within the image borderline at upper left: “C Reinhart f[ec] Romae 1812”.

Andresen 1878 132 (A Andresen 1878, “Der Deutschen Maler-Radierer des 19 Jahrhunderts”, 5 vols, Leipzig).

See also A Griffiths & F Carey 1994, “German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe”, exhib. cat., BM, London, pp.142–50, nos 92-8.

Condition: superbly crisp impression in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing but the lower left corner is chipped and there is slight unevenness to the colour of the sheet). The sheet is laid onto a support sheet of washi paper.

I am selling this important etching showing a break from the tradition of the heroic landscape of Claude Lorrain (note the portrayed fountain with its reference to the classical past) and an inventive reconnection with this tradition through close examination of natural phenomena (note the attention to detail in the treatment of the bull) for the total cost of AU$210 (currently US$163.50/EUR136.96/GBP121.66 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this beautifully executed etching exemplifying German romanticism at the dawn of the 19th century, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This may look like an everyday scene of a bull about to have a drink from a fountain, but it is much more than this. In fact this seemingly simple composition is full—“stacked to the rafters” as we say in Australia—with references to past traditions of composition, choice of subject and how the subject matter is rendered.

In terms of the composition, note that Reinhart has chosen to depict the bull from slightly lower than eye level. This is not accidental. The longstanding tradition that Reinhart is referencing with this low viewpoint is that of depicting landscape and its animals as “heroic” (i.e. out of the ordinary in the sense of noble and special).

Regarding the choice of subject, note that Reinhart has chosen a classical column capital as the base for the bull’s drinking fountain. Again this is not accidental. Here, Reinhart is referencing the classical landscapes of artists like Claude Lorrain, Nicholas Poussin and Gaspard Dughet that feature antique ruins.

Even the way that the bull and the fountain are portrayed is significant. For example, Reinhart has employed raked lighting so that the contours of the bull are pictorially explained with little or no ambiguity. Importantly, the angle of this lighting also suggests a time of day when the poetry of the scene is heightened.

Essentially what Reinhart is examining in this scene is a visual weaving of close observation, aesthetic conventions and a fresh poetic vision.

(For a marvellous account of Reinhart’s considerable achievements, I thoroughly recommend reading Timothy F Mitchell’s (1989) essay, “J. C. Reinhart and the transformation of heroic landscape 1790-1800”, Art Bulletin, vol. 71, no. 4 (Dec., 1989), pp. 646-59 and the British Museum’s curator’s comment for one of Reinhart’s masterworks:

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Albrecht Altdorfer’s woodcut, “The Betrayal”, c1513

Albrecht Altdorfer (1482/5–1538)

“The Betrayal” or “Prise au Jardin” (Bartsch title) (aka “Arrest of Christ” [BM]), c.1513, from the series, “Fall and Redemption of Man” (aka “The Fall and Salvation of Mankind Through the Life and Passion of Christ” [the Met])

Woodcut on laid paper with narrow margins.
Size: (sheet) 7.4 x 5.1 cm; (image borderline) 7.2 x 4.9 cm
Signed upper right with monogram: “AA”

TIB 14 (6) 20 (74) (Rober A Koch [Ed.] 1980, “The Illustrated Bartsch 14: Early German Masters”, p. 126); Dodgson 1903, 1911 II.225.20a (Dodgson, Campbell, "Catalogue of Early German and Flemish Woodcuts in the BM", 2 vols, London, British Museum Trustees, 1903); Bartsch VIII.74.20 (Bartsch, Adam, "Le Peintre graveur", 21 vols, Vienna, 1803); New Hollstein (German) w.20 (Altdorfer) (Hollstein, F W H, "The New Hollstein: German engravings, etchings and woodcuts 1400-1700", Amsterdam, 1996); Winsinger 45 (F Winzinger, “Albrecht Altdorfer Zeichnungen: Gesamtausgabe”, Munich, 1952)

Condition: superb lifetime impression in near faultless condition hinged to a support sheet.

I am selling this exceptionally rare, museum-quality, lifetime impression for the total cost of AU$550 (currently US$427.52/EUR359.33/GBP318.57 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this masterwork by one of the most important of the Renaissance German printmakers, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This rich jewel of a woodcut is so finely executed that it resembles an engraving. Indeed, a lesser printmaker might be tempted to mimic the portrayed bouncing effect of radiating light by simply cutting “white”/negative lines. If one looks closely at the radiating lines at the top of the composition, however, Altdorfer has—with almost unbelievable patience and skill—created incredibly fine black/positive outlines around each shaft of radiating light. Even more astonishing, he has chiselled fine contour marks with the thickness of a hair on the figures to render them with luminous shadows. Amazing!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Johann Jakob Haid’s mezzotint, “Christian Ludwig von Löwenstern”, after Johann Christian Fiedler, 1719–67

Johann Jakob Haid (aka Johann Jacob Haid; Haid & Sohn) (1704–1767)

“Christian Ludwig von Löwenstern” or “Christianus Ludovicus Liber Baro a Loewenstern” (as inscribed on the plate), 1719–1767, after a painting by Johann Christian Fiedler (1697–1765), published by Johann Jakob Haid.

Mezzotint on laid paper trimmed unevenly at the image borderline and lined on a archival support sheet.
Size: (unevenly trimmed sheet) 40.2 x 26.9 cm
Lettered below with title, continuing: "Hasso-Darmstad nat IV. id Aug MDCCII. / alter Paris, inter trigam Sororum / artem poeticam, harmonicam et pictoriam / alteram litem dirimens, ultimam eruditione sua dignissimam / pronunciavit, / eamq Minerva pronuba in thalamum adscivit / ex qua / ut ut ab Apolline irato / valetudine minus recta mulctatus fuerit / liberorum loco tabulas sustulit / quarum vestigia praesens miratur aevum posteritas adorabit", and production details below: "Io Christian Fiedler pinx", "I Iac Haid scul. et exc. AV".

Singer 1930-36 55136 (Singer, Hans Wolfgang, Allgemeiner Bildniskatalog, 14 volumes, Leipzig, Verlag Karl W Hiersemann, 1930)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Portrait of Christian Ludwig von Lowenstern, half-length, turned to the right, looking at the viewer from behind a curtain that he holds open with his right hand, wearing soft cap and robe; an easel behind on the right; in window frame; below on the right, an open book with coat of arms, books and pens on the floor; after Fiedler. Mezzotint”

Condition: crisp impression with restored abrasions, faint stains and laid upon a support sheet of washi paper to stabilise thin areas in the paper.

I am selling this visually arresting mezzotint for the total cost of AU$156 (currently US$120.34/EUR101.44/GBP90.07 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

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

This print has been sold

There are a few portraits created through history that “stand out” in the long tradition of portraiture and this is one of them. The subject of the portrait, Christian Ludwig Löwenstern (1701–1754), was as artist as signified by the easel shown in the background and the brushes in the immediate foreground, but he was also a poet of substance and an author as signified by the quill and books in the foreground.

Arguably, the reason that this portrait is so arresting is because of the way that the composition is arranged to prompt a reflexive response in the viewer. For example, von Löwenstern is shown in the act of lightly pushing aside the large drape on the left and looking directly at the viewer with a faintly welcoming smile. Importantly—and I believe that this next visual device is used intentionally—von Löwenstern’s pupils are also portrayed as dilated to intuitively entice a warm response in the viewer.

Beyond exciting a reflexive response, I wish to propose that the trompe l'oeil depiction of von Löwenstern in the act of drawing the drape to one side is an orchestrated subliminal reference to the Greek legend of Parrhasius’ curtain. For those who may not be familiar with the story about this curtain, I will try to explain. The ancient Greek painter, Parrhasius, was engaged in an art contest with his artistic peer, Zeuxis. Zeuxis painted a bunch of grapes and was almost deemed the winner after birds flew down to eat his painted grapes, but lost the contest when he was invited to pull back the curtain which seemed to be in front of Parrhasius’ painting: the curtain was not real it was painted and was so well executed that it had fooled Zeuxis and so Parrhasius was judged the better painter.