Friday 3 November 2017
Georg Pencz’s engraving, “Christ Healing the Man Possessed”, 1534
Georg Pencz (c1500–1550)
“Christ Healing the Man Possessed”, 1534–1535, Plate 13 from the series of 26 engravings, “The Life of Christ.”
Engraving on laid paper trimmed along the platemark
Size: 4 x 6 cm
Signed with the artist’s monogram, "PG", in the plate at upper right edge and numbered, “13” at right of upper centre.
TIB 16 (8).41 (331) (Walter L Strauss & Jacob Bink et al [Eds.] 1980, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol.16, p.98); Landau 1978 43 (David Landau 1978, “Catalogo completo dell' opera grafica di Georg Pencz”, Milan); Hollstein 53 (F W H Hollstein 1954, “German engravings, etchings and woodcuts c.1400-1700”, Amsterdam); Bartsch VIII.331.41 (Adam Bartsch 1803, “Le Peintre graveur”, 21 vols, Vienna).
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Plate 13: Christ healing the possessed man; Christ standing at centre left; facing him the possessed man, held back by a companion; the evil spirit escaping at upper right”
Condition: crisp, early impression (based on lack of wear to the plate) with replenished upper left corner (virtually invisible), trimmed along the platemark. There are two previous collectors’ ink stamps and numerous inscriptions in pencil and remnants of mounting hinges (verso).
I am selling this very small but exquisitely rendered engraving by one of the famous German Little Masters —the shared interest of the group in executing little prints is exemplified by this postage-stamp sized masterpiece—for the total cost of AU$403 (currently US$309.48/EUR266.12/GBP233.31 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this precious and exceptionally rare print with a 16th century vision of an exorcism and what a demon looks like, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This print has been sold
When I was studying this tiny miracle of engraving I felt that the composition seemed odd—wrong even. And then the realisation hit me. Of course! The composition was originally conceived and engraved in reverse. After all, the print is actually a mirror image of how Pencz drew it. In short the printing process has made this composition seem curiously odd to my eye and when I held the print up to a mirror everything “fell” into place as a well-crafted composition.
In the mirror I saw the scene lit from the top-front-left which is the more usually lighting direction for Occidental compositions. Moreover, the shadowy zone that I previously saw on the left—an area that pictorially blocked my reading of the image from left-to-right—is transposed in the mirror to the right side and in that position the darkness acts as an effective visual “break” stopping my eye from "sliding" out of the composition.
I could go on and discuss how devils don’t usually fly out of a composition towards the right as this wee demon does in the print but I suspect that I have made my point: even demons have a "proper" flight path.