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Friday 15 May 2020

Daniel Hopfer’s etching, “The blind cleaning the outside of the dish”, c.1520

Daniel Hopfer (1471–1536)

“The blind cleaning the outside of the dish” (British Museum’s descriptive title, see BM no. E,1.334), c.1520, sixth panel (lower-left of centre) of eight panels, from the large composite etching, “The Seven Woes” or “Matthew 23.13ff” (Bartsch title) (aka “Les vices que Jésus Christ reproche aux scribes et aux pharisiens …” [The vices that Jesus Christ reproaches the scribes and the Pharisees …]), c.1520, published by David Funck (fl.1682–1709) in Nuremberg in “Opera Hopferiana.”

Although this panel is one of the eight panels of the composite etching “seven woes” (i.e. vices) that Christ reproached the “scribes and the Pharisees” in his teachings, the inconsistency between the number of panels in the composite etching (8) and the numbers of woes (7) may be explained by variation in the number 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 the composite print, whereas Luke has only six woes).

Regarding this particular woe, Matt. 23:25–26 gives the following explanation:
“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.”

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 early laid paper it is from Funck's 17th century edition.

Iron etching on laid paper trimmed with a small margin around the borderline (retaining a portion of the letter “D” [for Daniel Hopfer] at upper left corner) and stamped in ink verso with a collector’s monogram.
Size: (sheet) 14 x 9.6 cm; (image borderline) 13.2 x 9 cm
Signed on plate below image borderline with a partially trimmed monogram at upper left and inscribed within the image borderline with the corresponding passage from Matthew 23.

Hollstein 34.I; Bartsch (1803) VIII.481.31; TIB (1981) 17.31; Eyssen 32.

The British Museum offers a description of this print:

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”

Condition: richly inked and crisp impression trimmed with a small margin around the image borderline. There is a pencilled “6” on the lower right corner (recto), an ink stamp of a previous collector and remnants of mounting (verso) otherwise the sheet is in an excellent/near faultless condition for its considerable age.

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$374 (currently US$240.08/EUR221.96/GBP198.01 at the time of 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 important old-master print, 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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