Gallery of prints for sale

Sunday 11 November 2018

Jan de Bisschop’s set of three etchings after Michelangelo’s sculpture, "Bacchus with Satyr”, c1670

Jan de Bisschop (aka Johannes Episcopius) (1628–1671)

(left) “Plate 53: Bacchus with Satyr”, c1669–71
(centre) “Plate 52: Bacchus with Satyr”, c1669–71
(right) “Plate 4 Bacchus with Satyr”, c1669–71

Three etchings from the series of 157 plates, “Signorum Veterum Icones” published in two volumes by Nicolaas Visscher II (1649–1702) in 1672. The subject of this set of etchings is Michelangelo’s (1475–1564) sculpture, “Bacchus with Satyr”, which the Curator of the British Museum advises was “executed in Rome perhaps between 1496 and 1497 by Michelangelo, [and] is now in the Museo Nazionale, Bargello in Florence” (BM No. 1901,1022.2531.54). Plate 52 (centre image) is based on an intermediary drawing by Cornelis van Poelenburch (1594/5–1667) (as inscribed on the plate).

Etchings on fine laid paper backed with a support sheet. Plate 53 is trimmed along the platemark. Plate 52 has small margins. Plate 54 is trimmed with a thread margin at the top, along the platemark at bottom and with small margins on the sides.

Sheet size: (Plate 53) 21.5 x 10 cm (this is also the dimensions of the plate); (Plate 52) 23.4 x 10.3 cm; (Plate 54) 21.8 cm.
Each print is inscribed on plate with the relevant plate number at upper right corner and with the artist’s monogram at lower right: ''JE f.'' (Nagler III.2254). Plate 52 is inscribed: "Poelenburch d."

Hollstein 6 (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam); Van Gelder 1985 I.138.52-54 (Jan Van Gelder & Ingrid Jost 1985, “Jan de Bisschop and his Icones & Paradigmata”, 2, Doornspijk, Davaco).

See also descriptions of these prints at the British Museum:
Plate 52:
Plate 54:

Condition: crisp, well-inked and well-printed early impressions (based on the lack of wear to the plates) backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. There are minor signs of handling (i.e. there are a few marks/spots).

I am selling this intriguing set of three etchings showing three views of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of Bacchus (with a restored right arm) holding up a winecup with a small satyr munching on grapes behind his left leg, for AU$510 in total for the set (currently US$368.63/EUR324.98/GBP284.22 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 these marvellous studies of three different viewpoints of Michelangelo’s slightly tipsy God of wine, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

My understanding of Bisschop’s intention for these multiple viewpoints of Michelangelo’s sculpture—and for all the 157 plates in the series “Signorum Veterum Icones” of which these three etchings are a part—is that this set of prints would serve as artistic study pieces designed for students to copy. Bisschop’s choice of this particular sculpture as a study piece is probably because it marched what was a common notion about beauty at the time: beauty could be perceived in antique artworks of Greece and Rome. Interestingly, Bisschop may not have been aware that this sculpture was by Michelangelo—mindful that the etchings are based on drawings by intermediary draughtsmen and were not inscribed on the plate in front of the original sculpture—as the Curator of the British Museum explains (in reference to “Addres to the Spectator”): “… [Bisschop] did not know what or where it was, but he might also have included it as a work equivalent to the antique” (BM No. 1901,1022.2531.54).

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