Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pierrre Firens’ engraving, “Daniel and the Four Fantastic Beasts”, c1625, after Cornelis Galle I


Pierrre Firens (c.1580–1638) after Cornelis Galle I (1576–1650)

“Daniel and the Four Fantastic Beasts”, c1625, published by Firens (fl.c1604–71) after the engraving attributed to Cornelis Galle I and published by Martinus Nutius (fl1624–28) in c1621.

Engraving on laid paper, trimmed to the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 30.3 x 19.6 cm
Inscribed within the image borderline: (lower right) “Firens ex.”
Inscribed below the image borderline with seven lines of Latin text: “Effigies Danielis in habitu Babylonico, scilicet saraballis, purpura, et cidari illo enim eum in Babylone et aula usum patet Daniel 3.12. et cap 2.29. Curaui eam expingi ex vetusto Codice Bibliothecae Vaticanae, nempe ex Graeco Sanctorum Menologio manu scripto, et picto auratis imaginibus ad viuum, ante annos 700. Fuit hic Codex Basilij Porphyrogeniti Imper. qui Constantinopli nuper allatus ad Cardinal. S. Caeciliae, ab eoque datus S.D.N. Paulo V. Pontif. eius iussu repositus est in Biblioth. Vaticana utpote illustre antiquitatis monumentum. Est haec effigies in Codice numero 252. eam praecedit effigies trium eius sociorum numero 251. Utraque repraesentat et narrat tam Danielem, quam tres socios tandem capite plexos ab Attico, re ipsa consummasse martyrium, quod alibi hactenus me legisse non memini porro Codex ipse notatur numero 777.”

Google translation: “The figure of Daniel in the habit of Babylon, the turbans and purple, and put it up in the pot for the use of plain, Daniel 3.12. and Cap 2.29. PAINT take care of it from an ancient Bibliotheca code, derived from the Greek word holy Menologio hand writing, gilded and painted pictures for a living before the age of 700. The Code Wasilico Porphyrogenitus Emperor. Constantinople, who, just recently brought to the Cardinal. St. Cecilia, from whom she was given S.D.N. Paul V. Fontif. was by his orders, he was laid in the Bibliothèque. Congress as the famous monuments of antiquity. 777."

Note: the inscribed text may be found in Johann Conrad Peetz’ (1725) “Daniel, Oder Umständige Nachricht Von Desselben Lehre und Lob, Leben und Todt, Nebst den meisten berühmten Auslegern dieses Propheten” (transl. “Daniel, Or Cumbersome Message Of Desselben Teaching and Praise, Life and Death, Along with the most famous interpreters of this prophet”), Volume 15, pp. 142–43.

IFF 185 (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930)

The British Museum offers the following description of the print of the same design attributed to Cornelis Galle I:
“Daniel standing at centre, his arms spread, two lions at his feet, the four beasts representing the four monarchies are walking on clouds at top; illustration to Cornelis van den Steene's "Commentaria in Danielem Prophetam" (Antwerp: 1621)” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3508356&partId=1&searchText=Nutius&page=1)

Condition: richly inked impression trimmed close to the image borderline and within the borderline at the top and laid upon a conservator’s support sheet. The sheet has light age-toning and minor staining at the top and lower edge.

I am selling this graphically strong engraving of Daniel showing two diminutive and cute lions at his feet and four animal monstrosities from his dreams roaming in clouds around his head for AU$172 (currently US$135.27/EUR115.60/GBP105.18 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this wonderfully strange engraving—I’ve fallen in love with the kooky looking lion on the left side of the image—please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This print has been sold


Nothing should come as a surprise when researching prints and this evening’s research the surprise was very pleasant. To be honest, the words “very pleasant” do not capture the true jump-up-and-click-your-heels thrill that I experienced when I discovered that Cornelis Galle I (1576–1650), who executed the earlier version of this print that Pierrre Firens (c.1580–1638) copied, was the same printmaker that also executed the early book of engravings that I posted on my blog way back in 2016 (see http://www.printsandprinciples.com/2016/11/early-book-of-13-large-engravings-of.html) In short, being able to put the engraver’s name to a print is simply sheer joy!

In terms of this print, however, the evening’s surprise was having to adopt the mindset of a detective to establish whether Pierrre Firens’ engraving (as shown here) was a copy of Cornelis Galle I’s engraving of the same composition or whether Galle copied Firens’ print. Or to express this differently: which artist made the original version?

My decision that Firens copied Galle is simply because Galle’s print has line-work that to my eyes appears more “searching” whereas Firens’ line-work seems a little more perfunctory, in the sense that Firens KNEW where each line should be laid. For example, in Galle’s treatment of the sky, his line-work is drawn with a light touch as if a few tentative strokes were needed before the final one could be laid with confidence. By contrast, in Firens’ print the lines in the sky are laid in a formulaic way as straight horizontals seemingly inscribed with a ruler.







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