Friday 18 August 2017
Aegidius Sadeler’s etching (with engraving), “River Landscape with Farmhouse and Pilgrims”, 1597–1629
Aegidius Sadeler II (aka Gillis Sadeler; Egidius Sadeler; Ægedius Sadeler) (c1570–1629)
“River Landscape with Farmhouse and Pilgrims” (TIB title); “Mountain Landscape with Resting Travellers” (Rijksmuseum title), 1597–1629, after a lost drawing by Pieter Stevens II (c1567–before 1632) from the series, “Eight Bohemian Landscapes”, published by Aegidius Sadeler.
Etching and engraving on fine laid paper.
Size: (sheet) 24.2 x 32.1 cm; (plate) 21 x 28.5 cm
Inscribed within the image border along the lower edge: (left) “Petri. St. In:”; (left of centre) “Eg. Sa.ex.”
State ii or iv (of iv) (Note: state ii is signified by both inscriptions having been rendered almost unreadable by the hatching while state iii is inscribed on the right: “Marco Sadeler excudit.” In state iv this publisher’s details are erased.)
TIB 72 (Part 2, Supplement) 7201.271 S1 (Walter L Strauss & Isabelle de Ramaix [Eds.] 1998, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 72, Part 2 [Supplement], p. 73); Hollstein Dutch 262-1 (2) (Hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 262); Le Blanc, no. 186; Wurzbach, no. 96; Nagler 1835—52, nos. 199–204
The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“Mountain landscape with resting travellers in the foreground. A river valley in the background. The last picture of an eight-part series of Bohemian landscapes.” (http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.167970)
Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with margins of varying size but approximately 1.5 cm. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing) but there is a closed hole that is visible only when looking at the print from the back.
This print has been sold
Landscapes executed at the time of Aegidius Sadeler were a rich amalgam of symbolic meanings.
For example the inclusion of the dead skeletons of trees shown among living trees on the distant rocky hill is not an incidental detail. The grouping of living with dead trees projects—for a 17th century audience—the vanitas meaning about the transience of life: all living things must ultimately die—like the memento mori symbolism of a skull. Added to this projected meaning, the juxtaposition of the dead trees with living trees also carries the connotation that life is a cycle, in the sense that trees may die but they will be reborn again with the next generation of trees.
Another feature of prints in the 17th century is that many landscape artists liked to show trees “clutching” onto hillsides with their exposed roots. Again, this motif of exposed tree roots is not incidental. Instead, the symbolism was potent for early landscape artists as it signified life forces at work in nature drawing energy from beneath the earth and up through the trees to the heavens above.
From a personal standpoint, I find the comparison of how 17th century artists valued the landscape with the way that Chinese and Japanese artists valued their scholar stones/rocks fascinating. For those who may be interested in this topic, I have written an explanation about the attributes of Scholar Stones in my blog; see “Ugly Beauty—Five Principles” (Part 1) http://www.printsandprinciples.com/2014/01/ugly-beauty-five-principles-part-1.html and (Part 2) http://www.printsandprinciples.com/2014/02/ugly-beauty-five-principles-part-2.html