My aim is to offer insights into some of the more subtle principles underpinning prints. The commentary is based on thirty-eight years of teaching and the prints and other collectables that I am focusing on are those which I have acquired over the years.
In the galleries of prints (accessed by clicking the links immediately below) I am also adding fresh images offered for sale. If you get lost in the maze of links, simply click the "home" button to return to the blog discussions.
“Judah gives Tamar his Signet Ring” (aka “Judah Giving Tamar the
Pledge”), 1564–68, after a drawing by Maarten
van Heemskerck (aka Maarten van Veen; Martin Heemskerk) (1498–1574), plate 1
from the series of 4 engravings, “History of Judah and Tamar”, published by Claes Jansz. Visscher (II) (1586–1652)
in Amsterdam (1643–46).
publication of this print, the Rijksmuseum offers the following insight:
possibly used in: Piscator, Nicolaus Johannes. Theatrum biblicum hoc est
Historiæ sacræ Veteris and Novi Testamenti tabulis æneis expressæ. Amsterdam:
Claes Jansz. Visscher, 1643. Or in: Schabaelje, Jan Philipsz. The big
fig-bibel. That is an image and vivid display, of all the foremost histories of
the gantscher Heyliger Schrift, in beautiful copere figueren (...) enriched
with learning about the selve figuring. Alkmaar: Simon Cornelisz Brekegeest,
Amsterdam: Jan Philipsz. Schabaelje, 1646.” (RP-P-1904-3343)
Engraving on fine laid paper watermark (“Arms of Amsterdam”?) and faded
handwritten notes in brown ink by an old hand in lower margin, backed with a
Numbered on plate at upper left: "1"
Inscribed on plate within and along the lower image borderline; (right
of centre right) “1”; (right corner) “Meemskerck In. / [interlaced monogram of
Harmen Jansz. Muller] HMVL fe, [interlaced monogram of Claes Jansz. Visscher]
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: “IVDAS ET THAMAR COEVNT
PROMITTITVR HOEDVS ANNVLVS, ARMILLÆ, ATQVE PEDVM PRO PIGNORE DANTVR. / Genesis
Size: (unevenly trimmed sheet) 29 x 32.5 cm; (plate) 21 x 25 cm;
(image borderline) 19.7 x 26.2 cm
State iv (of iv) with the addition of the plate number repeated at the upper left corner (see the Rijksmuseum for state iii (RP-P-1904-3343)
New Hollstein Dutch 5-4 (4) (Harmen Jansz. Muller); New Hollstein
Dutch 39-4 (4) (Maarten van Heemskerck) (FWH Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish
etchings, engravings and woodcuts ca. 1450-1700”, Amsterdam)
The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print (state iii):
(transl.) “Under a tree the veiled Tamar is sitting with her
father in law Judah, who does not recognize her and thinks she is a prostitute.
He gives her his signet ring and staff as collateral for the goat with which he
will pay her. On the right in the background the sheep and shepherds of Judah
and on the left a city. At the bottom of the margin a verse in Latin.”
Condition: crisp impression with no signs of wear to the plate and
the sheet has no foxing or significant stains within the image area, but there is
a tear at the lower edge that is not perfectly closed and the margin area shows signs of use (i.e. minor marks/stains). The
sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality)
washi paper to address the tear. There are (antique and faded) brown ink
handwritten notes by a past collector in the lower margin (recto).
I am selling this exceedingly rare print executed by the father of
Jan Harmensz. Muller for AU$233 (currently US$171.49/EUR147.51/GBP131.57 at the
time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the
world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).
If you are interested in purchasing this fascinating scene of a
father-in-law mistaking his daughter-in-law for a prostitute, please contact me
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make
the payment easy.
This print has been sold
When I was examining this engraving the thought occurred to me:
how would I illustrate a scene where a father-in-law mistakes his daughter-in-law
for a prostitute and proceeds to engage her services by giving the ravishing
daughter-in-law his signet ring—a ring that would fall off most chap’s finger
it is so large!—along with his staff as collateral for a pending payment of a
goat for her capitulation in delighting her father-in-law? Well, I guess that
Muller’s engraving comes close to what my exploding brain could concoct. This is
such a bizarre story!
For those who wish to know the “proper” story of Judah and Tamar
in the Old Testament, (“Genesis” 38:12–23; and specifically 38:15) the
following extract (Contemporary English Version) may be helpful:
“15 When Judah came along, he did not recognize her because of the
veil. He thought she was a prostitute
16 and asked her to sleep with him. She asked, ‘What will you give
me if I do?’
17 ‘One of my young goats,’ he answered.
‘What will you give me to keep until you send the goat?’ she
18 ‘What do you want?’ he asked in return.
‘The ring on that cord around your neck,’ was her reply. ‘I also
want the special walking stick you have with you.’ He gave them to her, they
slept together, and she became pregnant.”
One feature of Muller’s composition (after van Heemskerck) that I
find especially interesting is the representation of the tree shading the
couple. It is so lumpy! This curious choice of a tree, of course is symptomatic
of Muller’s Mannerist “lobulated” style (i.e. a style consisting of lumps like
earlobes), but I must say that I wonder where this aesthetic love of lumpiness