Saturday, 4 August 2018

Jan Sadeler I’s engraving, “Adoration of the Shepherds”, c1590

Jan Sadeler I (aka Johannes Sadeler; Johann Sadeler) (1550–1600)

“Adoration of the Shepherds” (TIB title), 1585–1595, after a drawing by Hans von Aachen (aka Johann von Achen) (1552–1615) in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich (see Isabelle de Raimaix’s [1999] commentary for TIB 7001.153)

Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed around the oval image borderline and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (oval trimmed sheet) 23.4 x 17.4 cm
Inscribed on plate with an imperial privilege: (lower left) “cu priuel. Sac. Cæs. Maic[?]”

State i (of ii) Note: my attribution of this print to the first state is based on the crisp quality of the lines showing no sign of wear to the printing plate. Ramaix (1999) advises that second state impressions exhibit “curved hatching on Joseph’s leg” (TIB 7001.153 S2). Sadly, I am unable to recognise which of the portrayed figures is Joseph. Certainly the figure to the right of the centre angel is a shepherd as advised by the BM’s description of this print, and—as far as I can see— none of the portrayed male figures reveal their legs. (A mystery!) Fortunately, Hollstein proposes that there is only a single state and so attributing this impression to the first state may not be a major issue.

TIB 7001.153 SI (Isabelle de Ramaix [ed.] 1999 “The Illustrated Bartsch: Johan Sadeler I”, vol. 70, Part 1 [Supplement], Abaris Books, pp. 179–80); New Hollstein (German) 19 (Hans von Aachen); Meyer, vol. 1, p. 41, no. 46; Gerszi, p. 390; hollstein 1980, vol. 21, no. 181; Szafraniec-Zrdaltowska, pp. 261–66.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The adoration of the shepherds, with Mary praying at the left, an angel in the centre and a shepherd at the right, with numerous figures behind, an oval composition after Hans von Aachen”

Condition: richly inked, well-printed, crisp impression with significant restored losses (with watercolour infilling) on the right side. The sheet is backed on a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this masterpiece of engraving from the late 1500s by one of the most important of the Flemish old master printmakers for AU$423 in total (currently US$313.10/EUR270.58/GBP240.86 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 stunning example of Mannerism full of shiny fabric, meaningful gestures and fascinating symbolism—note for example the bagpiper on the far left arguably symbolising male fertility and the lance on the ground symbolising Christ’s passion—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Isabelle de Ramaix (1999), the editor of “The Illustrated Bartsch” catalogue raisonné for Jan Sadeler I (aka Johan Sadeler I), offers the following information about this very beautiful and rare engraving:

“After a drawing by Hans von Aachen in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich. The preliminary drawing shows the influence of Veronese (cf. “Raising of the Widow’s Son of Naim”, Pinakothek, Munich). Szafraniec-Zrdaltowska mentions an anonymous painting in Zorawina dated to ca. 1622, that reproduces most of the figures in this print, as well an an anonymous painting in Nysa (Silesia)” (TIB, vol. 70, Part 1 [Supplement], p. 179).

A further insight into the background of this print is given by Curator of the British Museum:
“After the small oil on copper in Munich, dated 1591, and of the same size. See Thea Vignau-Wilberg, 'Citizens of the world, Dutch and Flemish artists in Munich c.1600', Munich 2005, cat.D.18” (BM no. D,7.3).

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