Thursday, 28 September 2017

Étienne Delaune’s engraving, “Leda and the Swan” (aka “Leda and Jupiter as a swan reclining under a canopy”), c1550


Étienne Delaune (aka Stephanus) (c1518–83)

“Leda and the Swan” (aka “Leda and Jupiter as a swan reclining under a canopy”), c1550, plate 6 from the series "Six Grotesque Prints". The curator of the BM advises that the prints in this series represent “figures from the classical mythology, engraved before Delaune's departure from France (1572/73) as proven by the presence of a copyright on other prints from the same set.” (see BM no. 1890,0415.43)

Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed close to the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 3.8 cmx 3.8 cm; (diagonal of circular image borderline) 3.6 cm

Robert-Dumesnil 1835-71 IX.109.370 (A P F Robert-Dumesnil 1835, “Le Peintre-Graveur Français”, 11 vols.)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Circular grotesque print on dark ground, with Leda lying with Jupiter disguised as a swan, in an elaborate structure inhabited by two female figures, two dogs and two birds; at the feet of the lovers, Castor and Pollux breaking through their eggs”

The Rijksmuseum has a copy in reverse of this print by an anonymous engraver; see http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.413594

Condition: exceptionally rare and crisp (lifetime?) impression trimmed close to the circular image borderline. The sheet is in excellent condition for its age (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions or stains but there is very faint traces of foxing).

I am selling this tiny masterpiece of engraving from the Renaissance era for the total cost of AU$216 (currently US$169.11/EUR143.39/GBP125.95 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this incredible display of discipline and skill to create an engraving only slightly larger than a thumb print (albeit a thumb print from a person with a exceptionally large thumb), 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


As I commented on another of Delaune’s prints not long ago, Delaune’s prints need to be seen in their true size to fully appreciate how tiny they are. To engrave this print for example Delaune would certainly have needed a magnifying glass to inscribe the tiny engraved lines—simply an incredible display of disciplined skill! I can even picture in my mind’s eye Delaune using the same techniques of magnification employed by early scribes and illuminators of using spherical glass bottles filled with water as a magnifying lens.





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