Sunday, 8 January 2017

Anonymous 16th century woodcut based on Jost Amman’s "Adam and Eve"


(Unidentified artist after) Jost Amman (aka Jost Ammon) (1539–91)
“Adam and Eve, The Fall of Man” (Gen. 3), a 16th century copy (circa 1560) after Jost Amman’s design from “Biblia” (see Bartsch 1.2) and from “Opera Josephi” (see Bartsch 12.2)
Woodcut on fine laid paper with small margins and printed text verso
Size: (sheet) 11.7 x 16 cm; (image borderline) 11 x 15.4 cm
16h century copy after Jost Amman: Bartsch (1985) Vol. 20 (Part 1) 1.2 (365), p. 248; Bartsch (1985) Vol. 20 (Part 2) 12.2 (374), p. 743

Condition: very good impression in near pristine condition. The sheet is attached with two mounting hinges (verso) to a support sheet.

I am selling this finely executed 16th century woodcut after Jost Amman’s design for a total cost of AU$197 (currently US$143.79/EUR136.64/GBP117.02 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this wonderful early illustration of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and their expulsion from the garden shown in the distance, 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


Let me begin this discussion by saying that trying to identify the printmaker responsible for an early print such as this is not easy. When I originally purchased it from an Italian dealer who specialises in old master prints, the cardboard mount protecting it was simply marked: “1550 circa … Anonymous, German School, XVI century.” Consequently, my choice to purchase it was not driven by a particular artist’s name and reputation, but rather by simply liking the woodcut.

This afternoon I committed myself to discovering the name of the artist who executed the print and set my mind to the tedious task of leafing through a virtual wall of volumes constituting “The Illustrated Bartsch” —a research repository of just about every print created by the old masters in the hope of finding the image married to the artist's name. I knew that the print had to be German— even without the note on the print’s mount—as the portrayed figures have that awkward angularity loved by the early Germans. Consequently, I started searching through images made by the early German monogrammists. Virgil Solis was my initial focus, as the imagery seemed to be a bit like his handiwork even if the treatment had a lighter touch in terms of tonal rendering. I must say at this point that Virgil Solis did a LOT of prints that I was compelled to study—so many in fact, that I came to the conclusion that he couldn’t have had many friends. I then moved to the two volumes of Jost Amman and there I found the print. What I hadn’t expected was that the print featured in both volumes as it was used in two different publications.

At this stage of my investigations I was happy—VERY happy—but then I started to compare my print with the versions reproduced in Bartsch. This was an “Oh no!” moment. I had discovered why my Italian dealer had not volunteered the artist’s name. The print was not the work of Jost Amman even though the size of the plate was exactly the same as Amman’s “Adam and Eve.” Amman has birds and clouds in his sky and my print didn’t. This was a copy after Amman’s design. It is not by Amman. In short, the Italian dealer was sadly correct in attributing the print to an anonymous artist. 







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Update: Thanks to @samuelahumphreys (on Instagram) and his marvellous advice that I should try the Google Image Reversal Tool, I have now established that this woodcut after Jost Amman was published and printed in 1575 by Nicolas Chesneau and Michel Sonnius in “La Cosmographie Universelle de tout le monde.” More information is provided at Vintage Maps who also have a copy of this print for sale (see: http://www.vintage-maps.com/en/graphics/old-masters/de-belleforest-adam-and-eve-1575::11621). 

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