Gallery of prints for sale

Sunday 19 September 2021

Johann Wilhelm Baur’s etching, “Proserpina and Ascalaphus”, 1641

Johann Wilhelm Baur (aka Johann Wilhelm Bauer; Joan Guiliam Bouwer) (1607–1642)

Proserpina and Ascalaphus”, 1641, plate 53 from the series of 148 illustrations to Ovid’s (43–17/18 BC) “Metamorphoses”, initially published in 1641 before the lines of Latin text were added (see BM inv. no. 2AA+,a.31.53) in “Des vortrefflichen Römischen poëtens Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon, oder, funffzehen Bücher der Verwandlungen”. This impression is from the 1709 edition published by Pet. Detleffsen (and Jer. Wolff?) in Augsburg with the Latin text.

Note that Baur etched another plate with minor variations of the same composition published in 1639 in Vienna(?) as plate 21 to “Des vortrefflichen Römischen poëtens Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon, oder, funffzehen Bücher der Verwandlungen” (see

Interestingly, in the plate 21 version, the scene shows Nyctimene—daughter of Epopeus, King of Lesbos—who has fled into a forest after having had sex with her father and is turned into an owl as punishment by Minerva (the Goddess of Wisdom); see

Note also that Abraham Aubry (fl. c1650) made etchings in reverse of Bauer’s designs published by Paulus Fürst (1608–1666) in Nuremberg in 1688.

Etching on fine laid paper with a small margin around the platemark.

Size: (sheet) 16.8 x 24.4 cm; (plate) 13 x 20.6 cm; (image borderline) 12.4 x 20.4 cm.

Numbered and lettered in plate below the image borderline: (left) “53.” (left of centre) “Mala Ditis rapuitsepten .../... noctua dixit eris.”; (right of centre) "Diva furens; meritas .../... mala mala tulit.”; (right) “lib:5. 80// [ligature monogram of the artist] “WB”.

State ii (of ii) with the addition of Latin text below the image borderline.

Bonnefoit R.172 (Régine Bonnefoit 1997, “Johann Wilhelm Baur (1607–1642). Ein Wegbereiter der barocken Kunst in Deutschland”, Tübingen, Ernst Wasmuth, cat. no. R 172); Hollstein 12.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print from its first state:

“Plate 53: Proserpina and Ascalaphus: at right, Prosperpina, with her right arm holding the branch of a tree, looking towards an owl; at left, near the entrance to a cave, a large owl, with the legs of a man and a bird, and human hands; Ascalaphus being transformed into an owl by Prosperpina; beyond, on the walls of the cave, figures have been drawn. 1641 Etching” (   

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression with a small margin (approx. 2 cm) around the platemark. The sheet is in a near pristine condition with no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, losses, stains, foxing or signs of handling.

I am selling this superb etching from 1641, showing Ascalaphus—the custodian of the Orchard of Hades—turned into an owl by Demeter after disclosing that Persephone—Demeter’s daughter—had eaten pomegranate seeds in the Underworld (see , for AU$232 in total (currently US$168.63/EUR143.74/GBP122.75 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 dramatic scene from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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