Friday, 15 June 2018

Nicolaes Berchem’s etching, “The Resting Herd”, c1652


Nicolaes Berchem (aka Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem; Niclas Berghem; Claes Berighem; Nicolaes Pietersz. Berrighem) (1621/22–1683)

“The Resting Herd” (Le troupeau en repos), c1652, plate 3 from a series of five related plates featuring animals.
Etching on fine laid paper trimmed at the platemark and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 26.5 x 21.2 cm
Signed in top right corner: "Berghem fe."
Numbered in the lower right corner: "3" (signifying the third plate in the series of five.)
State iii (of iii [?])

Hollstein 10.III (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam); Weigel 1843 297.10 (Rudolph Weigel 1843, “Suppléments au Peintre-Graveur de Adam Bartsch, Vol.I”, Leipzig); Dutuit 1881-5 I.36.10 (Manuel E Dutuit, “de l'Amateur d'Estampes”, 4 vols, Paris); Bartsch V.260.10 (Adam Bartsch 1803, ”Le Peintre graveur”, 21 vols, Vienna); TIB 7(5).10 (260) (Walter L Strauss 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol. 5. p.55)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Plate 3: The Resting Herd. A herd of different animals (one cow, a horse, a donkey, three goats and three sheep) resting, a shepherd leaning on a stick to the left, trees and a wide landscape in the background; from a series of five prints showing animals” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1662222&partId=1&searchText=Berchem+&page=7)

See also the description of this print at the Rijksmuseum: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.38009.

Condition: crisp impression trimmed unevenly along the platemark and backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The upper-right corner is chipped/rounded and there is light age-toning and a few minor marks and abrasions, otherwise the sheet is in very good condition for its considerable age.
(Note that this is the second impression of this important print that I have listed. The earlier impression has been sold.)

I am selling what is arguably Berchem’s masterpiece of etching—or at least one of his masterworks—for the total cost of AU$224 (currently US$167.31/EUR144.33/GBP125.89 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this truly magnificent print that lends an impression of grand scale to what is essentially a simple scene of rural life in the 17th century, 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


Although this is a scene of rural tranquillity, to my eyes, the way that Berchem portrays the featured animals casts them with an aura of timelessness. What I mean by this is that he renders each animal to show its quintessential attributes rather than drawing attention to the animal’s uniquely individual characteristics. For instance, when Berchem represents a mule, he does not portray a particular mule with odd spots and a lame leg. Instead he ensures that the point of focus is on the key characteristic that distinguish an archetypal mule: its large ears. Similarly, when Berchem represents a horse he ensures that the focus is on its head and its mane.

In short, Berchem portrays his subject matter with the aim of showcasing broad ideals about the forms represented so that trees and their foliage may not be about a particular tree but the essence of trees—the “treeness” of trees (to borrow a dollop of Platonism).






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