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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Simon Frisius’ etching, “Forest landscape with ruins hidden behind trees”, 1613/14

Simon Frisius (aka Simon Wynhoutsz Frisius; Simon de Vries) (c.1580–1628)
“Boslandschap met ruïne verborgen achter bomen” (Forest landscape with ruins hidden behind trees), 1613/14, after Matthijs Bril (c.1550–83), published by Hendrick Hondius I (1573–1650) in “Topographia Variarum Regionum” (Various topographical views) (1613/14). 
See this publication at the Rijksmuseum:  

Etching on fine wove paper trimmed irregularly at or within the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 10.1 x 14.5 cm
Lettered below the image borderline: “Mabias bril inventor. Henricus hondius excudit.”
State i (of iii)

Hollstein 1-25 (after Matthijs Bril); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 142.I (Simon Frisius); Hollstein 64-91 (under Simon Frisius)

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“Twee mannen staan langs een bosrand. Zij kijken naar een ruïne die, rechts, half verborgen is achter de bomen.” (Two men standing along a forest edge. They look at a ruin, right, is half hidden behind the trees.) (

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“View of a huge gnarled tree set before some ruins, figures in the foreground, after Matthijs Bril. 1613/1614” (

The curator of the BM advises that the publication “’Topographia Variarum Regionum’ consists of “a series of twenty-seven etchings by Frisius after Matthijs Bril (New Hollstein 123-150) of small landscapes, which was published in 1614 by Hendrick Hondius. One print after Joos van Lier has been added to the series. The prints are inlaid into double sheets and the series is bound in an album with a gold tooled vellum binding that seems to be seventeenth-century.” (,0319.7.&page=1 )

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with areas of wear, trimmed irregularly at, or slightly within, the image borderline in near pristine condition.

I am selling this small but remarkable etching for the total cost of AU$242 (currently US$185.69/EUR172.33/GBP150.19 at the time of posting this) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this seldom seen marvellous old-master print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

In previous posts showcasing prints by this remarkable old master I discussed Frisius’ skill as a calligrapher. I also touched upon his feat of amazing technical virtuosity in that his published manual for calligraphers which relies upon etchings as illustrations are all executed as faux engravings (i.e. Frisius faked the “look” of engravings using an etching needle).

For me, Frisius’ leaning to calligraphy is revealed in his treatment of the rocky outcrop in terms of the care that he has taken to give flow to the rhythm of the contour lines as they pictorially sculpt the form of the hillock. This is not to say that such care is not to be seen in many other artists’ attention to tight alignment of their strokes when laying contour lines, but rather that Frisius seems to enjoy creating complexity through the continuation of his strokes as a rhythm from the top of the rocky mound to the bottom.

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