Friday, 6 April 2018

Nicolaas de Bruyn’s, “Two Peacocks and a Turkey”, 1594


Nicolaas de Bruyn (aka Nicolaas de Bruin; Nicolaes de Bruyn) (1571–1656)

“Two Peacocks and a Turkey”, 1594, from the series, “Birds and Winged Creatures” (British Museum’s title) or “Birds and Insects” (Rijksmuseum’s title), published by Ahasuerus van Londerseel (1572–1635) in Antwerp
(Note that the Rijksmuseum holds a copy in reverse of this print by an unidentified artist: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.413715

Engraving on laid paper trimmed along the image borderline (with text line below the image borderline removed) and remargined with a support sheet.
Size: (remargined support sheet) 26 x 28.3 cm; (sheet/image borderline) 8 x 12.8 cm
Inscribed on the plate within the image borderline at lower right: "N de Bruin 1594"
State i? (of iii) lifetime impression (based on the lack of wear to the plate) before the edition by Carel Allard (1648 - 1709); see http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3062439&partId=1&searchText=Carel+Allard&page=1

Hollstein 224-236; New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 320.I (Nicolaes de Bruyn)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Landscape with two peacocks and other birds (such as a turkey), a river and country houses in background; from a series of thirteen prints showing birds and insects.”

Note that there is an anomaly in the number of plates in the series as the Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“Print from a series of twelve prints with birds and insects. At Hollstein, sheets of another series of prints are depicted, see De Groot 1988, p. 37 [Irene Margaretha de Groot 1988, “Ornamentprenten in het Rijksprentenkabinet”, Den Haag, Amsterdam].”

Note: I believe the discrepancy in the number of plates is that the British Museum has included the frontispiece whereas the Rijksmuseum has not. My reason is simple: the curator of the BM in describing the frontispiece to the series (see BM nol. Gg,4G.1) advises “This is the frontispiece to a series of twelve plates showing bird, flies, mosquitoes, snails etc.”

Condition: superb, well-inked and well-printed impression in very good condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, significant stains or foxing) trimmed to the image borderline and remargined with an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper.

I am selling this stunningly beautiful and rare engraving for AU$152 in total (currently US$116.70/EUR95.34/GBP83.34 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this remarkable 16th century print of birds, 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


When looking at this finely executed engraving I can understand the artist's reported close study of Lucas van Leyden’s prints. Note for instance the exceptionally subtle adjustments to the silhouette edge of the left peacock’s neck—and here I am drawing attention to very gentle, but important, adjustments to the curve of the neck that gives the mercurial element of “life” to the bird. Even De Bruyn’s use of tonal contrast bears a stylistic relationship to the great Van Leyden. What I mean by this comment is that De Bruyn—at least in this print—has not employed the strong chiaroscuro tonal contrasts of his Mannerist contemporaries, but has instead used a more limited range of tones with sensitive transitions from light to dark to model the birds.

Notwithstanding the stylistic similarities, there is a vast conceptual gap of projected meaning separating this engraving from the framing of ideas usually associated with Van Leyden. Note for instance how the birds in this print are not engaged with each other—each bird is in its own world and does not relate to the next. By contrast, I suspect that if Van Leyden were to portray this same scene he would first establish the symbolic meaning of the print in the middle distance and would then create an event—a farmyard “happening”—in the foreground in which each bird interacts with the next to pictorially explain the symbolism laid out in the middle distance. (For further discussion about Van Leyden’s compositions see CODART: https://www.codart.nl/guide/exhibitions/lucas-van-leyden-148994-1533-master-printmaking/







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