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Friday 29 March 2019

Antonio Tempesta's etching, “Ostrich Hunt”, c1610

Antonio Tempesta (1555?–1630)

“Ostrich Hunt”, c1610 (1600–1620 [BM]), from the series of seven plates, “Hunting Scenes V”, published by François Langlois (1588-1647) with papal privilege.
Etching on fine laid paper trimmed with a thread margin along the image borderline with loss of the lettered text below the borderline and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 17.8 x 26.4 cm; (image borderline) 17.5 x 26.2 cm.
Lifetime impression (based on the crisp quality of the line showing no sign of wear to the printing plate and still retaining fine surface scratches as may be seen in the lower left).

TIB 37(17).1138(167) (Sebastian Buffa [ed.] 1984, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Antonio Tempesta: Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century”, vol. 17 [Part 4], New York, Abaris Books, p. 35); Bartsch 1133–1139.

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“Landscape with Eastern hunters and hunting dogs hunting ostriches. In the background, ostriches are hunted in a ditch.”

For those appalled by the hunting of ostriches, I understand from reading F Hamilton Hazlehurst’s article (1984), “The Wild Beasts Pursued: The Petite Galerie of Louis XV at Versailles”, that in the 1700s this form of hunt was “extremely rare” (see “The Art Bulletin”, Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 224–36). Hazlehurst proposes that Tempesta’s composition has clear links to Philips Galle’s earlier engraving, “Ostrich Hunt” (c1578), after the design by Jan van der Straet (aka Joannes Stradanus) (1523–1605)—print that I will list soon—but the fork-ended weapon held by the two figures on the far right of the scene is a fresh design feature by Tempesta that was later employed in Charle van Loo’s (1705–1765) painting, “Ostrich Hunt”, in the Musée de Picardie.

Condition: richly inked, strong impression trimmed along the image borderline and laid upon a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. There is a replenished hole in the sky to the left of the centre ostrich’s head but this loss is not noticeable; otherwise the sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing).

I am selling this visually arresting etching executed by one of the most famous of the early Italian printmakers for the total cost of AU$215 (currently US$152.41/EUR135.73/GBP117.07 at the time of posting this remarkable print) 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 rare etching executed when Rembrandt was only a five year old boy, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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