Gallery of prints for sale

Saturday 9 December 2017

Bernard Picart’s etching, “Pan et Syrinx”, 1724, after Nicolas Poussin

Bernard Picart (1673–1733)

“Pan et Syrinx” (or as inscribed on the plate, “Pan et Sirinx”), 1724, after a painting by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), plate 42 from the series, “Impostures innocentes, ou Recueil d'estampes d'après divers peintres illustres”, published in Amsterdam in 1734.

Etching in brown ink and plate tone on wove paper
Size: (sheet) 27.9 x 42.9 cm; (plate) 20.8 x 28.5 cm; (image borderline) 19.2 x 27.6 cm
Inscribed on the plate outside the image borderline: (upper-right corner) “42”; (lower left) “N, Poussin pinxit, B. Picart sculpsit 1724.”; (lower centre) “Pan et Sirinx. Ovid, metam. Livr. 1.”

Andresen 1863 359 (A Andresen 1863, “Nicolaus Poussin - Verzeichniss der nach seinen Gemälden Gefertigten...”, Leipzig)
The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “Plate 42: Pan and Syrinx, after Nicolas Poussin; Pan pursuing Syrinx on a reed-fringed river bank; in the foreground, at right, two river gods. 1724” (

Condition: well-inked impression showing slight wear to the plate and with generous margins. There is scattered, very pale spotting and age tone showing in the outer edges of the margins; otherwise the sheet is in excellent condition for its age.

I am selling this masterpiece of interpretative etching of a painting by Poussin for AU$130 in total (currently US$97.71/EUR82.99/GBP72.99 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this etching by one of the world’s master printmakers, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For those unfamiliar with the story of Pan and Syrinx explained in “Metamorphoses of Ovid” (Book 1 Verses 689–713), I will offer my version ...

Syrinx, the loosely dressed young lady seen being chased by the lust driven satyr, Pan, through the reeds, is best known as a wood nymph famed for her chastity. Her father, Ladon, is the river god shown in the lower right foreground with his mate/companion, Artemis.

Heeding Syrinx’s pleas for help, Syrinx is metamorphosed into a handful of marsh reeds just as Pan grasps hold of her. In his dismay, Pan sighs rather strongly and the rush of air from his lustful anguish groan causes the reeds that were once Syrinx to resonate a mournful sound. The next part of the story is that Pan decides to mould the reeds he holds into his namesake musical instrument—the pan-pipe—so that he may carry the haunting sound of Syrinx with him forever.

What I love about this freely drawn etching is how Picart has translated the expression of movement captured in Nicolas Poussin’s oil painting using a rhythm of zigzag horizontal hatched lines following Pan as he chases after Syrinx. This expression of movement using “flowing” lines behind Pan—what illustrators describe as agitrons—is made more effective by the contrast of these quickly laid “movement” marks with the tightly controlled use of contour and shading strokes rendering the trees on the far right of the composition.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know your thoughts, advice about inaccuracies (including typos) and additional information that you would like to add to any post.