Gallery of prints for sale

Monday 4 October 2021

Daniel Hopfer’s etching, “The Pharisees Eating the Houses of Widows”, c1520

Daniel Hopfer (1471–1536)

“The Pharisees Eating the Houses of Widows” (British Museum’s descriptive title, see BM inv. no. E,1.335), c1520, second panel (upper-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 …]), c1520, 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 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 lower right corner) and stamped in ink verso with a collector’s monogram.

Size: (sheet) 13.4 x 9.4 cm; (image borderline) 12.5 x 8.8 cm

Signed on plate below image borderline with a partially trimmed monogram at lower right and inscribed within the image borderline with the corresponding passage from Matthew 23.

I understand the second “woe”, illustrated in this panel, aligns with verse 14 which is often deleted (see for example NIV Matthew 23:14 []). Bible Hub offers the following explanation: “Ye devour widows' houses.--The avarice thus described may have attained its end either (1) by using the advantages which they possessed, as the jurists and notaries of the time, to press unjust claims against wealthy widows, or to become their heirs, or (2) by leading devout women, under the show of piety, to bestow on them their estates or houses (see Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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, strong and well-printed impression trimmed with a small margin around the image borderline. There is an ink stamp and pencil notations of previous collectors (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$272.39/EUR234.17/GBP200.28 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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