Monday, 31 July 2017

Étienne Delaune’s engraving, “November”, 1568


Étienne Delaune (aka Stephanus) (c1518–83) Note: Delaune signed his prints “Stephanus” or “S. Goldsmith”, hence the initials “S.F.” inscribed in this plate at lower right.

“November” (“Novembre”), 1568, plate 11 from the series of twelve plates, “The Labours of the Months.” The British Museum offers the following description of this series: “A complete set of twelve small scenes depicting a seasonal activity associated with a zodiacal sign; within oval, without frame.” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1418591&partId=1&searchText=months&people=127338&page=1)

Engraving on fine laid paper.
Size: (sheet) 5.7 x 8 cm; (oval borderline) 5.5 x 7.7 cm
Inscribed within the oval borderline at lower right: “S.F.”
Lettered below the oval borderline: (left) “NOVEMBRE.”; (right) “CVM PRI. REGIS.”

Robert-Dumesnil 1835-71 IX.58.195 (A P F Robert-Dumesnil 1835, “Le Peintre-Graveur Français”, 11 vols.); IFF 198

See the description of this print (with very limited information) at the Rijksmuseum (http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.103046) and Harvard Art Museums (http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/collections/object/142201?person=35170). For more information about prints by Delaune see: http://spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Delaune.html and http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/engraved-ornament-project/life-and-work-etienne-delaune-1

Condition: well-printed crisp impression trimmed along (or slightly within) the platemark and lined onto a conservator’s support sheet of washi paper. The sheet is in excellent condition apart from minor toning to the upper-right corner.

I am selling this small and finely executed print executed in 1568 for the total cost of AU$162 (currently US$129.20/EUR110.11/GBP98.51 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this small masterpiece showcasing rural life occurring in November in the 16th century, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


Many viewers of this print would have no difficulty in recognising the seasonal activities associated with November portrayed here, but sadly, my understanding of 16th century European rural life occurring during this month is far from my experiences of living in tropical Australia. Nevertheless, I assume that the central figure is a swine herdsman whose activity of belting a tree with a rod is presumably to harvest/dislodge fruit or nuts, while the woman shown in the distance cuts what I assume may be sheaves of straw.

What I find particularly curious about this print is the zodiac symbol of Sagittarius—one of the astrological signs for November—shown in the clouds at the top of the composition, as the satyr of Sagittarius seems to be pointing his bow and arrow at the woman cutting the straw below. To be honest, I really do not know the significance of the satyr’s bow being aimed at this lady. Certainly, I am not aware of the Sagittarius satyr ever performing the role of a cupid in shooting arrows of love.

Perhaps I am reading far too much into this composition and what Delune is really showing the viewer is simply an emblem image of November activities without deep allegorical meaning.






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