Wednesday, 11 April 2018

(Attrib.) Jan Miel’s etching, “Virgin and Christ Child seated against a rock”, c1640


(Attrib.) Jan Miel (aka Giovanni della Vite; Giovanni Miel; Cavalliere Giovanni Milo) (1599–1664)

Regarding the attribution of this print, the Curator of the British Museum advises:
“Although this print does not bear the artist's name, it was probably made by Jan Miel for stylistic reasons” (see BM No. 2006,U.534)

“Virgin and Christ Child seated against a rock”, c1640 (BM 1614–1664)

Etching on laid paper trimmed along the plate mark and lined with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 13.3 x 16.8 cm
Hollstein 5; Bartsch undescribed; Weigel 1843 undescribed; Dutuit 1881-5 undescribed
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The Holy Virgin with the Infant Christ seated against a rock to the left, trees in the background to the right; soiled plate”

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with restored tip of the lower right corner, a small loss to the cloud at upper right, a dot stain above the Virgin’s foot and trimmed along the plate mark; otherwise the sheet is in very good condition for its age. The sheet is laid upon a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this sensitively executed and exceptionally rare oldmaster etching—undoubtedly a lifetime impression based on the exhibited crisp lines revealing lack of wear to the plate—for AU$523 in total (currently US$405.55/EUR327.16/GBP285.87 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this ravishing beautiful and important print from the early 1600s, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This print is a bit of a mystery and the reason is simple: it is unsigned allowing for academic debate regarding clear attribution to Jan Miel. Although stylistically I can see how it matches many of the attributes of other prints by Miel in terms of his use of broken cross-hatching and to a limited extent his use of stippling to assist in rendering tonal transitions. Nevertheless, I can also see that the subject portrayed—the Virgin and infant Christ—might be slightly outside of the orbit of earthy scenes of common folks' everyday lives that Jan Miel was engaging with in the early 1600s in Rome. This genre of subject which was affectionately known as “Bamboccianti”—a name derived from Pieter van Laer’s style that strongly influenced the group of Dutch and Flemish artists with whom Miel was associated, nicknamed the “Bentvueghels”—a name derived from the mission of the artists in the group to have “bent names”. Interestingly, according to RKD, the “bent name” for Miel was “Bieco” (lozenge or cross-eyed) and “Honingh-Bie” (referring to his surname wherein “miel” in French and “miele” in Italian means honey) (see https://rkd.nl/nl/explore/artists/56007).






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