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Saturday 21 March 2020

Philips Galle’s engraving, “Fishing at Night”, 1578

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

“Fishing at Night”, 1578, from the series, “Venationes ferarum, avium, piscium, pugnae bestiariorum & mutuae bestiarum” (Hunting and animal scenes), after the design by Jan van der Straet (aka Joannes Stradanus; Johannes Stradanus; Jan van der Straeten; Giovanni Statenensis; Giovanni Stradano; Giovanni della Strada) (1523–1605), lettered on plate with Latin verses by Cornelis Kiel (1528?–1607), published by Philips Galle in Antwerp.

Regarding the series in which this print features, the Curator of the British Museum advises that origninally “Philips Galle engraved 43 unnumbered plates with a dedication page to Cosimo de Medici”—a series which I believe that this plate must have belonged as it is unnumbered—but “this series was enlarged and further plates by A. Collaert, J. Collaert, C. Galle I and C. de Mallery were added” (

Gallica (Bibliothèque Nationale de France digital library) offers an online view of this and the other plates in this publication (see image 105 in the set):

Engraving on laid paper backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet trimmed unevely) 24.5 x 36.9 cm; (plate) 20.5 x 29.9 cm; (image borderline) 20.3 x 29.6 cm.
Lettered on plate below the image boderline in Latin: “Lumine sic capitur, noctu, sed sola nitente […] Pendet fallaci pisces deductus ab hamo.” (The fish is so caught at night with the light but when the sun shines it hangs from the deceptive hook.)
State i (of iii) Lifetime impression before numbering.

New Hollstein Dutch 464-1 (3) (Marjolein Leesberg [comp.] 2008, “The New Hollstein : Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450–1700: Johannes Stradanus”, Amsterdam, Sound and Vision Rijksmuseum, p. 147; p. 174 [ill.], cat. no. 464); New Hollstein Dutch 562-1 (4) (Manfred Sellink & Marjolein Leesberg [comp.] 2001, “The New Hollstein : Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450–1700: Philips Galle”, Rotterdam, Sound and Vision, p. 255; p. 299 [ill.], cat. no. 562); TIB 5601.104:44 (Arno Dolders [ed.] 1987, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists: Philips Galle”, vol. 56, Supplement, New York, Abaris Books, p. 444, cat. no. [5601].104:44).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print (from a later numbered state):
“Plate numbered 100, Fishing at Night; in the centre foreground, a river god holds a cornucopia and rests upon a rocky outcrop; beside him, the goddess Diana holds an olive branch; below them, to the left, men fish with rods, while to the right, men fish at night with lanterns and nets; a village on the left flanks the river, which recedes to the hills in the distance””

See also the description of this print offered by the Rijksmuseum:
(transl.) “In a small river, fish is caught by means of a fishing rod. Shining on the right with a lamp. The personification of the moon (Luna) in the foreground makes it clear that it is night. The print has a Latin caption and is part of a 43-part series about hunting”

Condition: well-printed lifetime impression with margins as published and laid onto a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. There is a closed tear in the lower edge and a ragged left binding edge, otherwise the sheet is in a excellent condition for its considerable age (i.e. there are no holes, losses, creases, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this exceptionally rare engraving—a lifetime impression from 1578—illustrating the 16th century practice of fishing in the day using a simple rod with a line attached as opposed to fishing at night using a latern backed with a reflector to attract fish and a scoop net, for the total cost of AU$320 (currently US$185.74/EUR173.50/GBP159.50 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 remarkable engraving showing not only early fishing practices, but also the personification of a river at night and its never ending supply of fish as symbolised by the sinuously reclining river god holding a cornucopia in one hand and an ever-spilling urn in the other while resting beside the goddess Diana wearing her crescent moon and carrying the symbolic laurel leaves of transformation that the river god gave her to escape the sexual advances of the god of the sun, Apollo, 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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