Monday, 2 October 2017

Cornelis Galle I’s engraving, “Catching a Giant Serpent with a Net”, 1596, after Jan van der Straet


Cornelis Galle I (1576–1650)
“Catching a Giant Serpent with a Net”, 1596 (or a little later), from the series, “Hunting Parties” (aka “Venationes Ferarum, Avium, Piscium” (transl. “With wild beasts, birds, fish”), after Jan van der Straet (aka Joannes Stradanus; Ioannes Stradanus) (1523–1605), published by Philips Galle (1537–1612).

Note: the first edition of “Venationes Ferarum, Avium, Piscium” published by Philips Galle comprised 43 unnumbered plates all engraved by Philips Galle with a dedication page to Cosimo de Medici. After this edition the series was expanded to 104 plates engraved by A. Collaert, J. Collaert, C. Galle I and C. de Mallery with a dedication page to the jurist Henricus van Osthoorn en Sonnevelt (see http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1619537&partId=1&people=93957&peoA=93957-2-70&page=1  and A. Baroni and M. Sellink, “Stradanus 1523-1605: Court artist of the Medici”, exh. cat. Groeningemuseum Brugge 2008–09, Turnhout, 2012, pp. 245–58, cat. nos. 32–49).

Engraving on laid paper with full margins as published.
Size: (sheet) 24.8 x 32.2 cm; (plate) 20 x 26.4 cm; (image borderline) 18.4 x 26.1 cm
Inscribed within the image borderline at the lower edge: (left of centre) “Ioan. Stradanus invent. / Cornelius Galle Sculpsit.”; (centre) “Phls Galle excud.”
Lettered below the image borderline: (left) “45”; (two lines of Latin text arranged in two columns) “Ter denos...incidit antrum.”; (right) “XXXI.”
State: ii (with the added numerals, “45” and “XXXI”; see the BM’s impression of the first state: 1957,0413.62)

New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 496.II (Johannes Stradanus); Baroni Vannucci 1997 693.45 (Alessandra Baroni Vannucci 1997, “Jan van der Straet, detto Giovanni Stradano, flandrus pictor et inventor”, Milan, Jandi Sapi Editori)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print from its first state before the plate number was changed from “31” to “45” and the Roman numerals “XXXI” were added:
“Plate 31 [“45”], Catching a Giant Serpent with a Net; in the left mid ground, a great serpent is trapped in a cave by a net that has been strung across the entrance; the cave is surrounded by troops, with several archers aiming towards the cave, while others blow horns and beat drums” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1620347&partId=1&people=106252&peoA=106252-2-23&page=2)

Condition: crisp impression with generous margins. The sheet is in very good condition for its age, nevertheless, there are a few specks, faint handling marks and a few tiny holes in the margins.

I am selling this exceptionally rare, engraving of a late 1500’s fantasy of battling a dragon caught in its cave by a net, for a total cost of AU$320 (currently US$250.35/EUR212.84/GBP188.59 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this exciting image showing the pending murder of the trumpeter on horseback who is clearly making far too much of a racket as he is about to be shot with an arrow by the chap on horseback beside him, 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


Both the designer of this image, Jan van der Straet, and the engraver, Cornelis Galle I, are artists who followed the stylistic fashion of the time for compositions full of dynamic rhythms and tensions. This stylistic leaning, termed “Mannerism”, however, had an attribute that is seldom discussed and which is exemplified in this print: the representation of a “frozen” moment in time.

A century before, Renaissance artists also represented frozen moments (e.g. Michelangelo's “Creation of Adam” showing God investing Adam with the “spark” of life with the touch of fingers), but the notion of the frozen moment is very different. The Renaissance artists’ portrayal of a moment in time is all about showing a moment that was never intended to end: an endless moment. By contrast, Mannerists conceived of a moment in time as a very specific moment extracted from a sequence of events, as exemplified by this print. For instance, the foreground horses are represented mid-stride and the soldiers portrayed are all captured in animated movement.






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