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Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Jan Collaert II’s engraving, “Storks Fighting Snakes,” c1596, after Jan van der Straet

(attrib.) Jan Collaert II (aka Hans Collaert; Jan Baptist I Collaert) (c1561–c1620)


“Storks Fighting Snakes” (aka “Cranes Fighting Snakes on Crete”), 1596, plate 63 from the series of 105 plates, “Venationes Ferarum, Avium, Piscium” (Hunts of wild animals, birds and fish), after a drawing by Jan van der Straet (aka Joannes Stradanus; Ioannes Stradanus) (1523–1605), initially published by Philips Galle (aka Philippe Galle; Philippus Gallaeus) (1537–1612) in 1596 in Antwerp, and later by Joannes Galle (aka Johannes Galle; Jan Galle) (1600–1676) in 1634, also in Antwerp. This impression is from a later (19th century?) chine collé edition.

Engraving on chine collé (China) on laid paper backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 26 x 34.9 cm; (plate) 20.2 x 27.5 cm; (image borderline) 18.5 x 27 cm.

Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (lower right corner) “Ioan Galle/ excud./ I. Stradan.inu.”

Numbered and lettered on plate below the image borderline: (Ieft) “63.”; (two columns of two lines at centre) “Nutrit Squamosos Appulia vasta Colubros:/ Istorum inuadunt Grus atque Ciconia pullos:// Hinc rostro et morsu bellum committitur acre./ Ludicra res multis hæ est Spectata spectata colonis. 4”.


State iii with the addition of the later publisher’s name, Joannes Galle (Philips Galle’s grandson).

New Hollstein 508.III (Stradanus) (Manfred Sellink [ed.] 2001, “The New Hollstein: Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450–1700: Philips Galle”, Rotterdam, Sound and Vision); New Hollstein 1528 (Collaert).

The British Museum offers the following description of this plate:

“Plate numbered 63, Storks Fighting Snakes; in the right foreground, two huntsmen, armed with a spear and daggers, watch from behind a tree as storks attack snakes to the left, one flying off with a snake; beyond, in the left mid ground, three men watch from a bridge; beyond them a town is visible in the distance; behind the huntsmen in the foreground, to the right, storks are nesting in chimneys”

(https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1957-0413-73).

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art which holds Jan van der Straet’s original drawing (gift of Susan Dwight Bliss) offers the following insights about the composition of this print:

“Two hunters shielded by a tree witness a fierce battle of storks against snakes. Royal menageries in sixteenth-century Europe featured bloody spectacles of interspecies fights to the death between exotic beasts, such as tigers and elephants. The bird and snake combat recorded in Book 10 of Pliny’s Natural History is described as taking place in Thessaly, Greece, where laws protected storks because of their snake-slaying potency. The engraving after this drawing has a four-line Latin verse below the image. It adds cranes to Pliny’s description and changes the locale: ‘Vast Appulia nourishes the scaly snakes. The crane and the stork attack their offspring. Here they wage a bitter war with beak and bite. This sportive event is watched by many farmers.’”

(https://artmuseum.bowdoin.edu/objects-1/info/4231).


Condition: well-printed, strong impression with full margins as published. The sheet is in an excellent condition for its considerable age (i.e. there are no tears, folds, holes, losses, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this visually arresting engraving showing storks making meals of snakes watched by two wide-eyed men, for a total cost of AU$286 (currently US$207.82/EUR174.01/GBP156.75 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 near faultless early engraving exemplifying the 16th century fascination for grim interspecies battles to the death, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print is reserved pending confirmation of its purchase












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