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Wednesday 24 October 2018

Philips Galle’s engraving, “Ops”, 1574

Philips Galle (aka Philippe Galle; Philippus Gallaeus) (1537–1612)

“Ops” (as inscribed on plate) (aka “Agriculture” (TIB title), 1574, plate 1 from the series of 8 engravings, “The Human Labours” (BM title) (aka “Personifications of Industrial and Professional Life” [TIB title]), after Marten van Cleve I (aka Marten van Cleef; Maerten van Cleve) (1527–1581) or Frans Floris (aka Frans Floris van/de Vriendt, 1519/1520–1570), with descriptive text by Hugo Favolius (1523–1585), published initially by Philips Galle (see the impression held by the Rijksmuseum, RP-P-1952-531), later by Johannes Boel (1592–1640) (see the impression held by the British Museum, 1950,0520.434), and finally published by Joannes Galle (1600–1676) in Antwerp. This impression is from the Joannes Galle edition (as inscribed on plate on the lower image borderline).

Engraving on fine laid paper with margins.
Size: (sheet) 24.9 x 30.6 cm; (plate) 20.5 x 24.6 cm; (image borderline) 20.5 x 20.2 cm
Lettered on plate within the image borderline: (upper left) “f.”; (upper centre) “ARTES PRACTICÆ, MAN VALES ET HONESTÆ./ OPS.”
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (on barrel at lower left) “F.Floris inuent.”; (left of centre at lower edge) “Ioan. Galle excud.”
Lettered in Latin on plate below the image borderline in two columns of two lines: Magna Deûm …/ … // …/ …auras./ Hugo Fauolius caneb.”
Numbered on plate below the image borderline: (centre) “1”.
State: iii (of iii) with the addition of the line of text above the allegorical figure, “Ops”, and the publication details of Joannes Galle.

TIB 5601.084:1 (Walter L Strauss & Arno Dolders [eds.] 1987, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 56, Supplement, p. 315); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 148.II (Frans Floris); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 382.II (Philips Galle).

Condition: crisp, richly inked and near faultless impression with margins in museum-quality/excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing).

I am selling this rare engraving from 1574 for a total cost of AU$270 (currently US$191.37/EUR167.89/GBP148.14 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this important and very beautiful print showcasing the agricultural aspirations of the 16th century, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print in its first state published by Philips Galle (who is also the engraver of the print):
(transl.) “In the foreground the Roman goddess of Agriculture Ops. She is surrounded by all kinds of agricultural and horticultural products and tools. In the background a plowing and sowing farmer. The print has a Latin caption and is part of a series of prints about human activities.”

See also the description of this print in its second state at the British Museum:
“Ops personifying agriculture; she sits holding a sickle besides a wheatsheaf bound with grape vine and is surrounded by the abundance of agriculture, barrels and tools etc; in the distance a field is ploughed and a man sows seeds”

Regarding the third state (shown here) published by Joannes Galle, the meaning of the print is now made unambiguously clear with the Latin text inscribed at the top of the image: “ARTES PRACTICÆ, MAN VALES ET HONESTÆ” (Google transl. “Practical art MAN is valid and honesty”) which I understand to mean the virtues of honest work.

There is one change over the course of the various states that catches my eye more than any other and it is the erasure of date of the engraving’s execution (1574) on the barrel and its substitution with the name of the artist who (arguably) designed the composition: Frans Floris. This may not seem at first to be extraordinary change to the print, but when a viewer is reminded that one of the greatest feats of fame of this Flemish artist was his propensity to drink copious amounts alcohol then his name written across the barrel seems shockingly appropriate.

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