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Monday 9 March 2020

Cornelis Cort’s engraving, “Rhetorica”, 1565, after Frans Floris

Cornelis Cort (1533–1578)

“Rhetorica”, 1565, plate 4 from the series of seven engravings, “The Seven Liberal Arts”, after Frans Floris I (aka Frans Floris van Vriendt; Frans Floris de Vriendt) (1519/1520–1570) published by Hieronymus Cock (aka Jérome Cock) (c.1510–1570) in Antwerp.

Engraving on laid paper trimmed unevenly around the platemark and backed by a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 22.7 x 28.3 cm; (image borderline) 21.4 x 28.3 cm.
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (monogram at upper right) “FF”; (numbered at lower right) “4”; (titled books at lower left) “CICERO”; HORTENSIVS, “AESCHINES”; “ISOCRATES”; “DEMOSTHENES”; “QVINTILIANVS”; (titled on banderole at lower centre) “RHETORICA”.  
Lettered on plate below the image borderline in two lines of Latin: (centre) "RHETORICÆ GRATOS SERMONI ASTVTA CÓLORES,/ QVO DVLCIVS FLVAT IS AD AVREIS, ADYCIT." (Artfully she adds the pleasing tones of eloquence to the spoken word, that it may flow more sweetly to the ears.)

State i (of ii) lifetime impression

TIB 52.227–1 (209) (Walter L Strauss & Tomoko Shimura [eds.] 1986, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists: Cornelis Cort”, vol. 52, Supplement, p. 260, cat. 227–1 [209]); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 200 (Cornelis Cort) (Manfred Sellink [comp.] 2000, “The New Hollstein : Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450–1700: Cornelis Cort”, vol. 3, Part 2, Rotterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet Sound and Vision Publ., p. 95, cat. no. 200); Van de Velde 1975 120 (Carl van de Velde 1975, “Frans Floris [1519/20–1570], Leven en Werken”, 2 vols, Brussels, p. 426–28); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 133.I (Frans Floris); Bierens de Haan 1948 227 (J.C.J. Bierens de Haan 1948, “L'oeuvre gravé de Cornelis Cort, graveur hollandais 1533–1578”, The Hague); Riggs 1977 81 (Timothy Riggs 1977, “Hieronymus Cock, Printmaker and Publisher”, New York, Garland Press).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Rhetoric, a seated woman, holding a caduceus, leans over and engages with a seated man writing on a tablet; an elderly man with a long beard places his hands on the shoulder of the younger scholar; two birds, including a parrot, sit on a pile of books labelled ‘CICERO’ etc on the ground; after Floris”

See also the description offered by the Rijksmuseum for this print:
(transl.) “Rhetorica sits on a chair and listens to the speech of a young man sitting behind her. An older man looks over the shoulder of the young man to his concept. Through the window you can see the square in front of the building where a grandstand is being built. Rhetorica holds a caduceus in her hand”

For those wondering about the significance of the subject of this print—the personification of Rhetoric—the ability to speak and write well was perceived as a key component of education during the Renaissance period. There was something of an order of priority, however, in the percieved key components underpinning a solid education at that time. The first and third plates, in the series, “Grammatica” and “Dialetica” along with “Rhetorica”, were embraced as the “trivum” of pedagogical constructs, while the remaining plates (“Arithmetica”, “Musica”, “Geometria” and “Astrologia”) were seen the “quadrivium.” (Note: this explanation may be flawed with overly simplistic categorisations and I may have profoundly misunderstood the logic behind medieval and Renaissance learning as discussed by the art historian, Jeffrey Chipps Smith.)

Condition: strong (lifetime) impression timmed unevenly around the platemark and laid onto a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. Beyond an area of abrasion under caduceus, the sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, losses, significant stains or foxing). Note that this impression has the curiously wonderful warm undertone to the black ink that I suspect is the result of the addition of red lead to the composition of the ink (see Manfred Sellink 1994, “Cornelis Cort”, Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, p. 133, cat. no. 45).

I am selling this important engraving from the Renaissance era with a personification of one of the key elements of education of that time, Rhetoric, for AU$448 in total (currently US$295.41/EUR258.51/GBP225.92 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 superb print—a lifetime impression—executed only twenty four years after Michelangelo put down his brushes after working in the Sistine Chapel, 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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