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Monday 19 June 2017

Engraving after Jacob Matham and Abraham Bloemaert, “Parable of the Demon Who, While the Workers Slept, Sowed Weeds among the Wheat”, c.1652

Unidentified engraver from the circle of Jacob Matham
“Parable of the Demon Who, While the Workers Slept, Sowed Weeds among the Wheat” (Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-40), c.1652, from the series of 130 engravings (plus title-page). “Historiae Sacrae Veteris et Novi Testamenti” (a Picture Bible), in reverse after Jacob Matham (1571–1631) (TIB 4[3].75[150]), after a drawing by Abraham Bloemaert (aka Abraham Bloemaart) (1564–1651), published by Nicolaes Visscher I (aka Claes Claesz Visscher) (1618–79).

Engraving on laid paper, watermarked with "Great Coat of Arms Crowned", lined onto a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet trimmed unevenly) 46.5 x 62.5 cm; (plate) 41 x 53.5 cm; (image borderline) 36.5 x 52.5 cm
Lettered with production details, in lower left and right of the image: "Abraham Bloemaert inventor" and "CIViβcher Excu.". Lettered in the lower margin with biblical verse in Latin: "DUM DORMIUNT HOMINES INIMICUS ZIZANIA INTERSERIT TRITICO. Math. 13. 24."

Hollstein 488 (after A. Bloemaert); Roethlisberger 1993 84; Hollstein undescribed (Visscher)
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The Parable of the Tares among the Wheat (Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-40 - while the farmers sleep, the devil sows weeds among the wheat); large trees in the central foreground with three sleeping figures in the shade at right; beyond some farm buildings and at left a horned figure sowing …” (

Condition: strong impression of this large engraving. The sheet has generous margins and the original centre fold is visible but flattened as the sheet has been laid onto a conservator’s support sheet of millennium quality washi paper.  The margins show signs of use as there are marks and small tears (addressed by the support sheet).

I am selling exceptionally large and very beautiful—perhaps even magnificent—engraving in reverse after Jacob Matham for AU$403 (currently US$306.28/EUR273.56/GBP239.26 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this spectacular print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For those (like me) who may be unfamiliar with the growing of wheat during Biblical times, the plant called “tares” that the devil—note his horns and tail—is shown sowing in the ploughed field “is an injurious weed resembling corn when young.” Specifically, it is “Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine.” (see

The significance of the devil sowing tares in this illustration of the parable, Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-40, is that this deadly weed “if eaten, produce[s] convulsions, and even death” (op.cit.) but the point of the parable is NOT that the farm workers should have being diligent in their duties to detect this plant and failed because they are sleeping when they should be working. Instead, I understand that farm workers should not be diligent and leave the tares in the field until it matures and extract it at that time.

Mindful that “proper”/best farm practice is to leave tares to mature rather than early extraction fits well with Jesus’ teachings that non-believers should not be hunted down and rooted out from the field of faithful, as was the case during the dreadful times of the Inquisition, the Crusades and the reign of “Bloody Mary.” Instead, the false followers should be left for God’s will and by leaving the non-believers undisturbed with the faithful will prevent “immature and innocent believers” from being hurt during any process of extraction. (see

(Please note that I am presently an agnostic and so my knowledge of Church scripture is superficial ... despite having been an altar boy “on the Gospel side” in my early youth.)

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