Gallery of prints for sale

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Melchior Küsel’s etching, “Allegory of Work”, 1670, after Johann Wilhelm Baur

Melchior Küsel (aka Melchior Küsell) (1626–1683)

“Allegory of Work” (aka “Personification of Labour”; “Personificatie van Arbeid”), 1670, plate 29 from the series of 149 etchings (including the title plate), “Iconographia” (aka “Joannis Guilielmi Baurn Iconographia”), after drawings by Johann Wilhelm Baur (1607–1642), published by Melchior Küsel in Augsburg.

Regarding the Baur’s drawings and Küsel’s publication of his etchings after Baur’s drawings, the Curator of the British Museum advises “Küsel had acquired a large number of drawings from the heirs of Baur (who died in 1642), and etched and published them himself. The series was a huge success and went through numerous editions between 1670 and 1702” (

Etching on fine laid paper with wide margins laid onto a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 28.5 x 31 cm; (plate) 22 x 23.3 cm; (image borderline) 20.6 x 22.4 cm.

Numbered in plate within the image borderline: (lower right corner) “29”.

Lettered in plate in two quatrains of German: “Zur Arbeit ist der Mensch erschaffen wie zum fliegen/ Dass leichte Flügel-Volck: die Erdt gibt ihr Vergntegen,/ Vnd Schätze nicht heraus, ohn Arbeit, Müh und Fleiss/ Sein Brot man essen muss, in seines Angsichts Schweiss// …”. (Man is created for work as if to fly/ That light winged people: the earth does not give her pleasure/ And treasures, without work, toil and diligence/ One has to eat one's bread, in his face sweat// …).

Hollstein German 329 (Fedja Anzelewsky [ed.] 1977, “German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts c.1400–1700: Maria Magdalena Küsel to Johann Christoph Laidig”, vol. 20, Amsterdam, Van Gendt & Co, pp, 105–07, cat. no. 329).

See also the description of this print offered by the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression with a few signs of wear to the plate (viz. on the figure’s beard and pants) and a restored vertical printer’s crease at left of centre. Interestingly, an impression of this print held by the Harvard Art Museum (see also has a vertical printer’s crease close to the same position that it occurs in this impression (before the white printer’s crease was replenished to avoid being visually distracting). Beyond the issue of the printer’s crease, the sheet is in a good condition with no significant stains or foxing.

I am selling this marvellous image of the notion of work being personified by a muscly labourer raising his mallet with the tools of his trade laying at his feet and other workers shown in the distance—note how the clouds in the sky seem to stand as a visual analogue for the buzzing latent energy of the scene—for AU$298 (currently US$199.18/EUR180.22/GBP158.65 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 very memorable etching that (at least for me) has the strange effect of removing the idea of becoming a hard worker, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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