Saturday, 25 February 2017

Dominicus Custos’ engraving for the world’s first museum catalogue, “Armamentarium Heroicum” (1601)

Dominicus Custos (aka Dominicus Custodis; Dominicus de Costere) (c.1559–1615)
“Lansquenet Commander Sebastian Schertlin von Burtenbach in Armour”, c.1601, after the design by Giovanni Battista Fontana (1524–87), illustration plate from a German translation of Jacob Schrenckh von Notzing’s “Armamentarium Heroicum” (1601), published 1603/5.

Woodcut, etching and engraving on laid paper with small margins lined on a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 45.2 x 32.9 cm; (plate) 43.6 x 29.8 xm
Hollstein 60.

The curator of the British Museum offers the following information regarding the series of prints, “Armamentarium Heroicum”, of which this print is from:
“'Augustissimorum Imperatorum ... regum... verissimae imagines..' (also known as 'Armamentarium Heroicum') is the catalogue of the arms collection Archduke Ferdinand II kept at Ambras castle; it was first published in Innsbruck in 1601. It was illustrated with a frontispiece and 125 portraits of European princes in full armour, with decorative surroundings. The plates were engraved by Dominicus Custos after designs by Giovanni Battista Fontana. Each plate was accompanied by a short biographical text on the former owner of the armour, written by Jacob Schrenk von Notzing.
A German translation of the book (by J. E. Noyse von Campenhouten) was published in 1603 under the title 'Der aller Durchleuchtigisten und Grossmächtigen Kayser, Durchleuchtigisten unnd Großmächtigen Königen...'.
A third edition including 123 plates was issued in Innsbruck in 1605.”

Condition: slightly silvery impression with a few spots of abrasion, and restoration. The sheet has be laid onto a conservator’s support sheet. There are traces hand-written script in brown ink with the name of the portrayed luminary (Sebastian Schertlin von Burtenbach) inscribed in the blank tablet at the lower centre. The sheet is in a restored clean condition.

I am selling important large print from the first museum catalogue every printed for AU$165 in total (currently US$126.63/EUR119.97/GBP101.54 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this historically significant print from the Renaissance era, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This full length portrait of Sebastian Schertlin von Burtenbach, is far more than a fine example why women should never design armour protection for codpieces. After all, no man would ever choose to have sharp pointed devices around his delicate bits. Indeed, it is part of a series of 125 engraved portraits, the "Armamentarium Heroicum", which holds the historically very significant position of being the very first museum catalogue in the world. Each of the plates, like this one, showcases the armour worn by the featured luminary and the set of prints is considered to be a museum catalogue because (unless I am mistaken) all the pieces of armour were in the collection of Archduke Ferdinand II (of Tyrol) and kept in the Ambras Palace near Innsbruck. Moreover, each plate is accompanied with biographical details about the owner of the armour written by the Archduke's secretary, Jacob Schrenck von Notzing (1539–1612).

Beyond being a part of the first illustrated document—a paper museum— of a collection, this print has another notable attribute that is also fascinating: according to the British Museum the prints of the “Armamentarium Heroicum” are not just engravings they are an amalgam of intaglio (etching and engraving) and relief (woodcut) printing.

For those that are interested in the subject of this portrait, Schertlin von Burtenbach (1496 –1577) served under Emperor Maximilian I as a mercenary field captain until his elevation in 1532 to the rank of infantry Commander-in-Chief of the whole of the Army of the Holy Roman Empire. Interestingly (and I am undoubtedly wrong about this), his main role was as a “Brandschatzmeister”—the chap responsible for pillaging.

1502 woodcut by the Late Master of the Grüninger Workshop

Late Master of the Grüninger Workshop (fl. 1502)
(Recto) “Winged Fama” (aka rumour), illustration to Book 4 of Virgil’s “Aeneid.”
Double sided woodcut leaf from “Vergilius Maro, Publius” (70-19 B.C.). Opera. Edited by Sebastian Brant, printed by Johannes Grüninger, Strassburg, 1502

According to information offered by Christie’s regarding the book from which this leaf has been extracted:
“FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF VIRGIL. One of the great German woodcut books of the Renaissance, and the masterpiece of the artist known as the Late Master of the Grüninger Workshop. Sebastian Brant was commissioned by the publisher to edit the work and based his commentary on that of Cristoforo Landino, adding several poems not in earlier editions of Virgil.” (

Woodcut printed leaf (verso and recto) on laid paper.
Size: (leaf) 20.5 x 19.5 cm
Adams V-457; Brunet VI:1277; Muther 537; P. Kristeller, Die Strassburger Buchillustration (1888), pp.32-46, no. 99. Fact and Fantasy 12.

Condition: marvellous crisp, richly inked and well-printed impression(s) with faded traces of marginalia in brown ink by an old hand. The sheet has light staining and there is a tear on the right side (recto) that has been closed with a fine sliver of the original paper.

I am selling this incredibly rare leaf from one of the most important woodcut book of the early German Renaissance for AU$345 in total (currently US$264.78/EUR250.85/GBP212.31 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this incredibly powerful print of winged Fama/Rumour, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This leaf has been sold

Rather than addressing both sides of this incredibly rare leaf from one of the greatest woodcut books from the Renaissance (see my earlier reference from Christies), I have decided to focus solely on the arresting image of the winged nymph Fama (aka Romour).

From what I understand about Fama (with the help of Michael Paschalis’ [1997] “Virgil's Aeneid: Semantic Relations and Proper Names”) this nymph is a problem child. Like all bearers of rumours, after consulting with King Jarbas about Dido and Aeneas (to quote Paschalis) she “”fires’ Jarbas with bitterness and indignation which is vented in a prayer to Jupiter” (p. 155). Of course, Fama does not stop upon exciting (i.e. "firing up") the King and on hearing his prayer in which the King questions Jupiter whether the god “sees” the disgrace of Dido and Aeneas and whether he intends to hurl thunderbolts at them (amongst many more items that he was brooding about) she spreads what she has heard “throughout Italy” (ibid).

In case some of the details in this riveting image are missed, note Fama’s multiple ears, the eyes on her waist and the cloven hooves with wings attached. I also wish to draw attention to the large size of these hoof-wings. Usually artists reduce the size of foot-wings on celestial beings, such as the wing-footed god Mercury, for the sake of pictorial elegance. This is clearly not the case here as these hoof-wings look like they might actually function in keeping Fama airborne when needed. A few other details that catch my eye is the exploding fortress tower as a result of fire extending from her hand on the right side of the composition. What I find fascinating about this treatment of the explosion is that it is so similar to the treatment of the grass clumps that also look like explosions in the foreground.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Daubigny’s cliché-verre (glass print), “The Return of the Herd”

Charles-François Daubigny (1817–78)
“La Rentrée du Troupeau” (The Return of the Herd), 1862, from the series, “Quarante Cliché-Glaces”, published in the Le Garrec 1921 edition with Edmond Sagot’s ink-stamp verso.

Cliché-verre on tan wove paper, signed on plate (in reverse at the lower-left edge). Verso numbered 142/150 with the stamp of Sagot.
Size: (sheet) 36.2 x 28.6 cm; (image borderline) 34 x 26.9 cm
Edition number 142 (of 150)

Delteil 140 (Loys Delteil [1902], “Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré (XIXe et XXe siècles)”, 31 vols, Paris); Melot 140 (Michel Melot [1978], ”Graphic Art of the Pre-Impressionists”)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “Plate 27: shepherd and flock of sheep between trees in landscape; from a portfolio of forty mounted cliché-verre prints by five artists. 1862 Cliché-verre” (

The curator of the BM offers the following information regarding the publication of this print:
“From a portfolio of forty individually mounted cliché-verre prints by Corot, Daubigny, Delacroix, Millet and Rousseau, printed from plates held in the collection of M. Cuvelier (Paris: Maurice Le Garrec, 1921); with title page, list of plates and 'avertissement', each mount and title page stamped with the series number in blue ink; edition 8/150 [Note that this print is numbered 142/150]. The verso of each print also bears a stamp, possibly that of the Edmond Sagot studio (the title page states that Le Garrec was the successor to Sagot). The department also holds a cliché-verre plate by Corot ... which was donated by M. Cuvelier after the printing of this series.” (,0410.213&page=1)

Condition: faultless impression in pristine condition. There are remnants of mounting hinges and Edmond Sagot's verification stamp of authenticity and the edition number “142/150” hand-inscribed in pencil above the stamp (verso).

I am selling this large and historically important print by one of the leading artists of the Barbizon School for AU$1250 in total (currently US$964.63/EUR910.12/GBP768.50 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this sublime print capturing the spirit of the Barbizon School, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Art writers in the late nineteenth century didn’t quite know how to categorise Daubigny’s work. For instance, Charles Perrier (1859) went too far by proposing that Daubigny’s “ originality consists of fixing on canvas images that seem to have freed themselves from a mirror” (“Le Salon de 1859” in “Revue Contemporaine”, vol. 9, no. 2, May/June 1859, p. 320). The poet Charles Baudelaire, whose portrait is purported to feature in my previous post (with personal concerns about this claim as I discuss in that post), was arguably closer to the mark with his assessment that Daubigny’s landscapes ”immediately convey to the soul of the viewer the original feeling with which they are filled” (“Salon de 1959”, p. 105). Even closer to finding the “right” classification for Daubigny Zacharie Astruc who (according to Lynne Ambrosini [2015], in the excellent catalogue “Inspiring Impressionism: Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh”) perceived that “Daubigny was strong in both ‘eyes’ and ‘heart” (p. 26)—a fine balance of objectivity and subjectivity.

If I may take a very different way of looking at this print (shamelessly reconfiguring borrowed ideas from Ambrosini [op. cit, p. 25]), five years before executing this print, Daubigny spent a good deal of his art-making time working in his famous studio boat, “Botin.” This may at first seem like a trivial detail but it really isn’t as his view from the river changed the way that his compositions were arranged. Essentially, from his boat he no longer looked at landscape with a foreground filled with an assortment of rocks, shrubs and grasses. Instead, he only saw ripples in water.

With regard to this print, I see a similar diminished interest in the immediate foreground and focus on the middle distance—a distance comparable to a long leap to shore from his little Botin. When this print is considered with an understanding of how Daubigny’s view of landscape had changed with his adventures upon his studio boat, I wish to propose that what is portrayed is more like a view through a screen of trees that one might see looking from a boat: a line-up of trees on the river bank with gaps in the visual barrier that they create allowing tiny glimpses into the distance. In short, although the portrayed scene is steeped in romanticism of the age in which it was created, it may also be an honest response to landscape evolved from the artist’s personal experiences.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Jacques Villon’s etching (from a cancelled plate) of a young man

Jacques Villon (1875– 1963)
“Portrait of Baudelaire” (cancelled plate), early 1900s (Note: the title of this print is based on information given to me at the time of purchase and may be inaccurate as the Baudelaire had passed away well before Villon was born and the portrait, if it is indeed of Baudelaire, is of a young man.)

Etching and drypoint with two cancellation marks (at lower centre) on wove paper with watermark (ntgolfier), signed in the plate
Size: (sheet) 31.8 x 23.9 cm: (plate) 23.5 x 17.5

Condition: excellent impression from the cancelled plate. The sheet is in pristine condition.

I am selling this fluidly drawn etching of the famous poet, arts writer and (according to Wikipedia) a “pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe”, Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821–67), printed from the original but cancelled printing plate for a total cost of AU$132 (currently US$101.55/EUR96.23/GBP81.54 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this delicate and very beautiful print taken from a cancelled etching plate, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 

I avoid purchasing prints where I can see clearly that the artist had wished that the printing plate was not to be used any longer—a wish that is evident (or “flagged”) by the two diagonal strokes at the lower centre of the image. Notwithstanding this reservation, I succumbed to acquiring this print partly because the impression is so very crisp and shows no sign of wear to the plate. More important, however, is the beauty of the image itself: a sensitively executed study underpinned with an early twentieth century leaning to fractured and layered surfaces.

What I love about this print are the freely drawn strokes that are laid as if Villon were “feeling” the form of the young man (purportedly Baudelaire but I have a lingering doubt about this because Baudelaire departed the planet eight years before Villon was born … and this is a very young Baudelaire) with the stylus without necessarily looking at closely at the subject’s superficial features. Of particular interest is the layering of the strokes with an upper layer of darker “sketchy” contour strokes overlaying a tonal mass of tightly aligned, almost mechanically drawn, diagonal strokes. Essentially, this portrait is created from two different mindsets: an analytical way of looking and thinking where mass is perceived and ordered, and a more intuitive way of responding where a unimpeded flow of unpremeditated strokes explore and “shape” the subject.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Lucas Vorsterman (I)’s engraving after Ruben’s “The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence”

Lucas Vorsterman (I) (aka Lucas Aemilius Vorsterman) (1595–1675)
“The Martyrdom of St Lawrence”, 1621, after the painting by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, published by Lucas Vorsterman I. Note: the curator of the BM points out that there is also a preparatory drawing by Van Dyck (?) in The Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Engraving on wove paper (19th century impression) with margins
Size: (sheet) 44.4 x 31.4 cm; (plate) 39.3 x 28.6 cm; (image borderline) 37.2 x 27.3 cm
Lettered within the image borderline at bottom left, "Lucas Vorsterman sculp. et excud. Ao. 1621", in lower margin four lines Latin dedication by Rubens to Laurens Beyerlinck, left the privilege CPRCPB&OB, right "P. P. Rubens pinxit"

Schneevoogt 1873 105.100 (C G Voorhelm Schneevoogt 1873, “Catalogue des estampes gravées d'après P.P.Rubens”, Haarlem); Hollstein 88.II (under Vorsterman) (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam); see also the impression held by the Rijksmuseum:  

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The Martyrdom of St Laurence; St Laurence being roasted on a gridiron, pushed by two torturers on either side; a third man providing wood into the fire in foreground; two helmeted officers at left, another one on horseback at right; one priest, one lictor urging the martyr to abjure his faith at centre, other spectators in the distance; in left background a statue of Jupiter; above a cherubs holding out a martyr's crown and palm; after Peter Paul Rubens. 1621 Engraving” (

Condition: exceptional 19th century impression in superb—near pristine—condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, stains, abrasions or foxing). There are pencil notations on the lower edge of the sheet (recto).

I am selling this large, spectacular and important engraving by one of the finest reproductive engravers of the 17th century for a total cost of AU$187 (currently US$143.55/EUR136.58/GBP115.29 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing major print from the Renaissance era, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 

Vorsterman is one of the greatest printmakers of the 17th century in terms of the art of translating colour, texture and tone of paintings into prints. He was certainly the finest reproductive engraver/etcher of Rubens and Van Dyck’s designs. Sadly, like most intense and obsessively committed artists, he was prone to having/creating explosive relationships with those he worked with. Accordingly, his working relationship with Rubens ended abruptly in 1622—so abruptly that there was a rumour that Vorsterman may have almost stabbed Rubens to death! From what I understand, based on what Rubens wrote to Peter van Veen in April 1622, Vorsterman had delusions of grandeur.  Vorsterman’s falling out with the artistic luminaries of the time, however, simply redirected his energies into the discipline of being a print publisher and in the same year of his calamitous disagreement with Rubens he was awarded a six-year publisher’s privilege from Archduchess Isabella of Austria. Interestingly, this print was both engraved and published by Vorsterman, but under the privilege (i.e. copyright) of the Spanish Crown rather than Austria.

Regarding the privilege inscribed on this plate, it was obtained by Rubens rather than Vorsterman in 1619. What this granted Rubens was permission to “have copies made and engraved by an engraver of his choice. Furthermore, it was forbidden for the next twelve years for anyone else to copy ‘the aforesaid paintings so depicted and engraved on plates.’” (Carl Depauw & Ger Luijten 1999, “Anthony van Dyck as printmaker”, Antwerpen Open, p. 387)

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Lucchese’s engraving (1539) after Raimondi’s “The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence” (c.1520)

Michele Lucchese (aka Michele Greco; Michele Grech; Michele Crecchi;) (fl. 1534–64)
“The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence”, 1539, after Marcantonio Raimondi (1470/82–1527/34) after a drawing by Baccio Bandinelli (1493–1560), published by Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi (1627–1691)

Engraving on laid paper trimmed to the image borderline
Size: (sheet) 27.3 x 35 cm
Inscribed on a tablet: “Baccius Brandin invent”
Lettered at the lower edge: (left) “M.L cu privilegio”; (centre) Ant. Lafrerj. Rom; (right) the lettering in this area is difficult to decipher and the text shown here may be inaccurate, “Gio Rossi ….Petri de Nobilibus Forimnis”

TIB 26 (14) 104C (89) (Walter Koschatzky, Mark Carter Leach, Peter Morse, Leonard Joseph Slatkes, Walter L. Strauss 1978, “The illustrated Bartsch”, Vol. 26, p. 136, cat. no. 104C); see also the discussion about the engraver in  M. Bury’s (2001) “The Print in Italy 1550-1625”, British Museum, London, p. 228.

Condition: good impression from a slightly worn plate. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no significant tears, holes, folds, stains, abrasions or foxing). There are pencil notations and an ink collector’s stamp verso.

I am selling this important engraving executed in 1539 by Michele Lucchese (who signs his plates M.L.) after Marcantonio Raimondi’s earlier engraving (c.1520) after the drawing by Baccio Bandinelli for a total cost of AU$433 (currently US$331.58/EUR314.70/GBP267.12 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this print that embodies the spirit of the Renaissance era, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers the following interesting account of the shenanigans behind the publication of Marcontonio Raimondi print—one of his last and arguably one of his most famous prints—that Lucchese copied after the original drawing by Baccio Bandinelli (1493–1560):

“Like many of Bandinelli's projects, his commission to paint two large frescoes for the church of San Lorenzo in Florence came to nothing. However, his patron was so impressed by his drawing for the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence that he granted him the Knighthood of Saint Peter. In order to spread the fame of this admired design, Bandinelli hired Marcantonio to engrave it. Bandinelli is said to have complained to the pope of Marcantonio's failings. However, when Clement VII compared the drawing and the print, he concluded that the engraver had corrected many of Bandinelli's errors.” (

I suspect that having the pope support Raimondi’s version must have been wonderful for Raimondi but I empathise with the emotional pain that Bandinelli must have felt being so harshly dismissed. From what I understand about the sorry state of Bandinelli’s pride, this was not the only time that Bandinelli was scorned. He seemed to attract spiteful comments from most of his fellow artists—and even arts writers well after he died.

What makes this image by Bandinelli that Raimondi and Lucchese translated into engravings so interesting for me is its clear references to Michelangelo. For instance St Lawrence is posed like Adam reaching up to God in the Sistine Chapel and the virtual sea of naked men in the foreground—with no need for them to be fully naked that I can see (apart from St Lawrence)—smacks of Michelangelo’s joy in all things manly.

Beyond the referencing to Michelangelo, this print epitomises the age in which it was conceived. What I mean by this is that the symmetry of the composition and the formality of the arrangement of the figures harks back to classical times. Moreover, one does not have to try too hard to see the prefect of Rome (under the authority of Emperor Valerian) seated in the centre of the composition as a visual equivalent of early Roman depictions of Jupiter.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Manchon’s engraving, “The Charging Chasseur”, after Géricault

Gaston Albert Manchon (1855–1951; fl.1883–1900 according to Engen)
“The Charging Chasseur” (Officier de chasseurs à cheval de la garde impériale chargeant) (aka “An Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards Charging” and “Equestrian portrait of Lieutenant Dieudonné”), c.1880, after Théodore Géricault’s (1791–1834) painting dated 1812 and exhibited in the Salon of the same year (see

Engraving on light tan wove paper, stamped No. 47, hand-signed in pencil by Manchon with three remarque studies below the image borderline: at the lower left are two lightly engraved studies after Géricault and at the lower centre is a portrait of Géricault after a drawing executed in 1816 by Alexandre-Marie Colin (1798–1873) and a lithograph by Geillet executed in 1824.
Size: (sheet) 63 x 50 cm; (indistinct plate-mark) approx. 55.5 x 42 cm; (image borderline) 46.6 x 36.2 cm

Condition: An exceptionally large and superb remarque-proof impression of the utmost rarity hand-signed in pencil by the engraver. The sheet is lightly age-toned with minor handling marks but generally in excellent condition.

I am selling this magnificently executed engraving of one of Géricault’s most famous paintings for a total cost of AU$196 (currently US$150.41/EUR141.53/GBP120.58 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this large and visually arresting engraving, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. (Note that this is a large print and will be rolled in a tube for shipping)

This engraving of the equestrian portrait painted by Géricault, “The Charging Chasseur”, is as huge as the image of the dashing Lieutenant Alexandre Dieudonné with his cutlass in hand summonsing up support from the troops behind him (or whatever a chap does when turning around on a rearing horse in a battle) is famous. Mindful that there is a lot of easily accessed information about Géricault’s famous painting, I have decided to discuss something that often goes unnoticed in a remarque-proof impression like this: the tiny sketches engraved below the image borderline.

These lightly inscribed engraved drawings, called “remarques”, have been described as an engraver’s test drawings before working on the main image and as such they are later burnished away before the formal edition is printed for publication. Although this makes for a good story, these drawings are not arbitrary doodles of experimentation. Of course there are always exceptions to any generalisation and no doubt there have been artists who do use the outside border to make tiny sketches to hone their skills, but for the majority of artists who make “special” prints—remarque proofs—with these lightly drawn sketches the reason is simple: the tiny drawings are there to make money.

Arguably the first artist (another bold generalisation) to print these special remarque proofs was Whistler who perceived a market for collectors willing to pay extra for a print that was uniquely different to those of the standardised published editions.

Certainly by the late 1800s the use of remarques in the margins of prints was a well-established practice as the famous French artist/printmaker, Félix Bracquemond, explains to the equally famous artist/printmaker/publisher, Loÿs Delteil:

“To-day Monsieur Delteil, we have another remarque which recently came into vogue,—I do not quite know when, thought I have frequently engraved one. …a tiny etching or engraving in the lower margin which is thereafter referred to as the remarque, all proofs bearing it being termed “remarque proofs.” …It is neither an incident nor an accident. …The remarque is in fact an imbroglio and I have never really discovered what purpose it serves, although I have engraved many for a commission…” (Extract from the preface (n.p.) in Loys Delteil & Harold JL Wright 1907, “Charles Meryon: Catalogue Raisonné of the Etchings”).