Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Jacob Matham’s engraving, "The Holy Family", 1607


Jacob Matham (15719–1631)
“The Holy Family” (aka “Virgin and Child with the little John and Elizabeth”), 1607, after the painting by either Matheus du Boys (fl.1609) proposed by the British Museum or Ambroise Dubois (1543–1614) proposed by the Rijksmuseum, executed and published by Jacob Matham

Engraving on laid paper trimmed to the platemark.
Size: (sheet) 31.2 x 24.1 cm
Inscribed in the plate within the image borderline: (lower left) “M. de Boӱs pinxit.”; (lower right) “Maetham Sculp et excud.”; (on the chair) “Ao. 1607."
Inscribed in the plate below the image borderline, two lines of Latin text in two columns: Felices  ambræ... tuo / Ex te ...tuæ.”

Hollstein 112 (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450–1700”, Amsterdam); Nagler 78; New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 75 (F W H Hollstein 1993, The New Hollstein: Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450–1700, Amsterdam); Bartsch III.151.78 (Adam Bartsch 1803, “Le Peintre graveur”, 21 vols, Vienna); TIB 4 (3).78 (151) (Walter L Strauss 1980, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol. 4 [formerly vol. 3 Part 2)]. p.68) (Note: there is an error in TIB as the image shown on p. 68 is the copy in reverse held by the BM and not the original print)
See also the Rijksmuseum's copy of this print: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.150529

The British Museum does not hold this print but they do have a copy in reverse by an anonymous artist and offer the following description:
“The Virgin and Child with St Elisabeth and the infant St John the Baptist; Mary sits on a chair at right and holds out Christ towards John who offers Him a dove Engraving”

Condition: crisp, richly inked impression (most likely a lifetime impression based on the quality), trimmed at the platemark in excellent condition apart from a small closed tear at the lower edge of the sheet and collectors’ annotations.

I am selling this early impression of this exceptionally rare print—The British Museum only holds a copy after this print by an anonymous artist—for the total cost of AU$600 (currently US$455.81/EUR419.70/GBP363.18 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this sublime print of the highest order of quality, 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


If the engraving of this print has overtones of Goltzius this not surprising as Matham was not only a pupil of Goltzius but he was also his stepson after Goltzius married his mother in 1579. Going further, he also managed Goltzius workshop in Haarlem from 1600 onwards and so the Goltzius legacy was well entrenched with his technical virtuosity of laying curved parallel strokes with the Goltzius legacy of leaving dots at their ends and even Goltzius’ famous device of the “dotted Lozenge” (see Christ's right arm and St John's wrist) to assist in rendering the transition of tone from light to dark.

Of special interest to me, is Matham’s treatment of the corner of the window frame shown at the upper right. Note how Matham has employed very subtle transitions of tone so that the lit side of the corner is rendered with a transition to a lighter tone at the edge of the corner whereas the dark side is rendered a touch darker at the same corner. This is just a technical “trick” to match the illusion of what is termed “simultaneous contrast”, but to see an early artist using it is exciting.






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