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Thursday 28 May 2020

Antonio Tempesta’s etching, “Civilis’ Troops Crossing the Maas River”, 1611

Antonio Tempesta (1555?–1630)

“Civilis’ Troops Crossing the Maas River” (TIB’s title) (aka “Troops of Julius Civilis cross the Maas” [Rijkesmuseum’s transl. title]), 1611, after the design by Otto van Veen (1556–1629), plate 11 from the series of 37 plates (including the frontispiece/titlepage), “The War of the Romans against the Batavians” (Romanorvm et Batavorvm societas), illustrating Tacitus’ “Histories” (c.100–110), Book IV, lifetime impression published in the first edition with Latin text verso by Otto van Veen in 1611 in Antwerp.

Etching (with letterpress text verso) on laid paper trimmed with a narrow margin around the platemark and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 17.4 x 21.4 cm; (plate) 16.7 x 21.3 cm; (image borderline) 14.7 x 21.1 cm.
Monogrammed on plate at lower left corner: “AT” (in ligature).
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (in four lines of Dutch text at left): "Civilis de Ceulsche daer hy op verbittert was (mits dien sy hun/ vaderlandt verloochenende, eenen Roomschen naem, tweten Agrippynen/ aenghenomen hadden) verslaghen hebbende, schickt syn volck over de Mase,/ quellende de Geldersche, Triersche, ende Terouaensch frontieren."; (center within a circle) “11”; (in four lines of Latin text at right) “Ciuilis cæsis Vbijs (quos, eó quòd vetus exuentes no:/ men, Romanum assumsissent, exosos habebat) suos/ trans Mosam dirigit, qui Menapios, Treuiros, et/ Morinos fines infestant, damnaque varia inferunt.”
Latin letterpress text verso.

State i (of ii) Note: TIB lists this impression with Latin text verso as “SI II” and the impressions without the text verso as “SI I2”. In the second state the plate is “heavily retouched” and with “PLANCHE XII./ INVASION DE CIVILIS/ DANS LA GAULE BELGIQUE.” (among other changes). There is also a copy in the same direction executed by Joseph Mulder and inscribed, “I. Mulder fecit."

TIB (Leuschner 2007) 3501.507 S1 11 (Eckhard Leuschner 2007, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Antonio Tempesta, vol. 35. Commentary, Part 2, New York, Abaris Books, p. 121); TIB (Buffa 1984) 570 (Sebastian Buffa [ed.] 1984, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century: Antonio Tempesta”, vol. 35, New York, Abaris Books, p. 299, cat. no. 570); Nagler XVIII.179.560-.595 (G K Nagler 1835–52, “Neus allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon” [22 vols]); Bartsch XVII.145.570 i/ii (Adam von Bartsch 1803, “Le Peintre graveur,” vol. 17, Vienna, p. 145, cat. no. 560–595).

The Rijksmuseum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art offer descriptions of this print:

Eckhard Leuschner (2007, TIB, vol. 35, Commentary Part 2) offers the following insights about the letterpress text on verso; “…Civilis’s military operations against neighboring tribes are described, especially against the Ubii which he hated more than the others because they had romanized their name and now called themselves Agrippinenses” (p. 121).

Condition: well-printed lifetime impression trimmed with a small margin around the platemark and laid upon a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The upper left and lower right corners and a small hole above the helmet of Civilis have restorations otherwise the sheet is in excellent condition for its considerable age.

I am selling this superb first state/first edition/lifetime impression of one of the more desirable of Tempesta’s etchings from the series, “The War of the Romans against the Batavians”, for the total cost of AU$274 (currently US$181.95/EUR164.08/GBP147.64 at the time of posting this 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 graphically strong image full of swirling action, but without the extreme use of distortions typifying the earlier period style of Mannerism, and 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.

Note that this is the second impression of Tempesta's same etching that I have listed. The previous copy is from the later edition without the text verso and has been sold.

This print has been sold

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