Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Claude Mellan’s engraving, “Moses before the Burning Bush”, 1663


Claude Mellan (1598-1688)
“Moses before the Burning Bush”, 1663. This is an impression from the first state before publication in the second state by Honoré Thomas Bligny (c1742–85)

Engraving on light grey laid paper from the exceptionally rare 1st state.
Size: (sheet) 25.6 x 34.4 cm; (plate) 24.3 x 33.6 cm
Inscribed at lower right: “'CMellan in. et f. 1663 cum p. R.” (Note: The Metropolitan Museum of Art proposes that the inscription reads "CMellan jn. et s. 1663 cum p. R." but this is a misreading as the letters “jn. et s.” are only meaningful as “in[vent]. et f[ecit].” as shown on the BM’s description of their copy of this print; see BM number: 1851,1213.443)
State 1 (of ii); lifetime impression (Note: the British Museum has an impression [BM number: 1851,1213.443] from the second state showing the addition of the publication details: “a Paris chez Bligny”)

Montaiglon 1856 366.4 i/ii (Montaiglon, Anatole de. “Catalogue raisonne de l'oeuvre de Claude Mellan d'Abbeville”. Abbeville: P.Briex, 1856); BN XVII.36.3 i/ii; IFF 3.II (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930)
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The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Moses bowing low before God appearing in the burning bush. 1663 Engraving” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1346992&partId=1&searchText=mellan+1663&page=1); see also the description at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:  http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/392319

Condition: crisp impression with small margins laid upon a conservator’s support sheet of washi paper. The sheet is in good condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes significant stains or foxing), but there are signs of use (i.e. there is evidence that the sheet once had folds and light abrasions—both of these issues have been addressed—and there is minor surface soiling from handling).

I am selling this lifetime, 1st state impression of the utmost rarity by Claude Mellan—the engraver famous for his masterpiece, “Sudarium of Saint Veronica” [Veil of St Veronica] (1649), inscribed with a single spiralling line (see images of this print below)—for the total cost of AU$630 (currently US$503.91/EUR426.45/GBP381.34 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this exceptionally rare print, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


Mellan engraved “Moses before the Burning Bush” (1663) fourteen years after completing his most famous print, “Sudarium of Saint Veronica” [Veil of St Veronica] (1649), which is one of the most acclaimed tour de force feats of engraving involving a single spiralled line that fluctuates in its thickness to create the entire image of Christ’s head shown on a veil—the Sudarium.

What I find interesting about this gap of time between the two prints is that Mellan’s approach to engraving has changed significantly. He has moved beyond his earlier approach of using only a single line (viz. “Sudarium of Saint Veronica”) to employ groups of parallel curved lines with each group carefully arranged so that they pictorially separate the featured subject from its immediate background where they abut. For example, the lines portraying the Lord speaking to Moses are curved to follow the contours of this figure, but their almost horizontal directional flow is at ninety degrees to the vertical flow of the parallel lines representing the flames behind the Lord.







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