Tuesday 17 December 2019
Daniel Hopfer's etching, “The Blind Leading the Blind”, c.1520
Daniel Hopfer (1471–1536)
“The Blind Leading the Blind” (British Museum’s descriptive title; see BM no. 2004,U.51), c.1520, panel 5 (lower left panel) of 8 panels, from the large composite etching, “The Seven Woes” (aka “Matthew 23.13ff” [TIB title]; “Les vices que Jésus Christ reproche aux scribes et aux pharisiens …” [The vices that Jesus Christ reproaches the scribes and the Pharisees …] [Bartsch title]), c1520, published by David Funck (fl.1682–1709) in “Opera Hopferiana” in Nuremberg.
Iron etching on heavy laid paper trimmed with a small margin around the borderline and stamped in ink verso with a collector’s monogram.
Size: (sheet) 14 x 10.6 cm; (image borderline) 13.2 x 9.9 cm.
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline with the corresponding passage from Matthew 23.
Regarding the publication of the Hopfer’s etchings, Robert A Koch (1981) in Vol. 7 of TIB advises in his editor’s note: “In the 17th century a Nuremberg publisher named David Funck numbered 230 of [… Hopfer’s] plates and issued a volume entitled ‘Opera Hopferiana.’ In 1802 a publisher named C. Wilhelm Silberberg in Frankfurt-am-Main reissued 92 plates with the Funck numbers in a volume which he also entitled ‘Opera Hopferiana.’ These plates were printed on unnumbered pages of a heavy wove paper.” Mindful of the two editions, as this impression is on laid paper it is from Funck's 17th century edition.
Hollstein 34.I; Bartsch (1803) VIII.481.31; TIB (1981) 17.31; Eyssen 32
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The blind leading the blind; clerics giving a tenth of their earning on right; on left a man swallowing a camel; fifth scene only of eight illustrations to Mathew 23, 13-31.”
The British Museum offers the following description of the composite print in which this panel features:
“The seven woes; eight illustrations to Mathew 23, 13-31; with Christ showing the apostles the misdeeds of the pharisees, scribes and contemporary clerics. Etching”
Note: the fact that there are eight panels rather than seven in the composite plate is an inconvenient truth in that there is inconsistency in the numbers of woes cited in the gospels (viz. Matthew has eight woes—Mathew 23, verses 13 to 16, 23, 25, 27 and 29—and these are illustrated in this print; Luke has only six woes).
For those who may not be acquainted with the woes that Christ identified in his criticism of hypocrisy and perjury, the following verses may be helpful:
Matt. 23:13 (the first woe) “They taught about God but did not love God …”
Matt. 23.15 (the third woe) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
Matt. 23:25–26 (the sixth woe and my favourite) “They presented an appearance of being ‘clean’ (self-restrained, not involved in carnal matters), yet they were dirty inside: they seethed with hidden worldly desires, carnality. They were full of greed and self-indulgence.”
Condition: richly inked and strong impression trimmed with margins near the image borderline in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains, foxing or signs of handling). There is an ink collector’s stamp verso.
I am selling this panel from a larger composite etching of eight panels by the first artist to use etching for prints on paper, for the total cost of AU$344 (currently US$235.50/EUR211.44/GBP179.73 at the time of posting this) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this important old-master print—one of the earliest etchings ever made!—please contact me (email@example.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This print has been sold