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Wednesday 25 January 2017

Engraving by Hendrik Goltzius/Hieronymus Wierix, “Mula et Asinus”, after Johannes Stradanus

Hendrik Goltzius (aka Hendrick Goltzius) (1558–1617) or (?) Hieronymus Wierix (aka Hieronymus Wierx; Jerome Wierix) (1553–1619)

(Note: This plate is from the series of forty-three plates, “Equile Ioannis Austriaci” (The Stable of Don John of Austria). The curator of the British Museum advises that the title plate is “signed by Adriaen Collaert, but Hendrik Goltzius and Hieronymus Wierix also worked on the series, only a selection of plates signed.” Based on the distinctive use of the “dotted lozenge” device for rendering tone employed by Hendrik Goltzius, I lean to the idea that this print is executed by Goltzius, but I could be wrong.)

“Mula et Asinus” (Mule and Ass), 1578, after Johannes Stradanus (aka Jan van der Straet; Joannes Stradanus; Jan van der Straet; Giovanni della Strada; Jan van der Straeten; Giovanni Statenensis; Giovanni Stradano; (1523– 1605), from the series, “Equile Ioannis Austriaci” (The Stable of Don John of Austria), possibly published by Philips Galle (aka Philippe Galle; Philippus Gallaeus) (1537–1612) as the other prints in this series are published by Galle.

Engraving on fine laid paper, trimmed to the image borderline but without the text box showing publication details.

Size: (sheet) 19.3 x 26.4 cm
Lettered within the image at the upper edge: “MVLA ET ASINVS”

The British Museum offers the following description of this print;
“Mula et Asinus; in the foreground, a mule stands with its reins tied to a tree stump, to right; behind, an ass; beyond, a rural landscape with lake” (,0413.178&page=1
New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 557.I (Johannes Stradanus) (F W H Hollstein 1993, “The New Hollstein: Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450-1700” [Johannes Stradanus], Amsterdam); Baroni Vannucci 1997 692.41 (Alessandra Baroni Vannucci 1997, “Jan van der Straet, Belgium, Brepols)

Condition: faultless, museum quality impression, trimmed to the image borderline in pristine condition. This is a superb impression.

I am selling this small masterpiece by either Goltzius or Hieronymus Wierix (see my explanatory note above) for a total cost of AU$398 (currently US$301.09/EUR279.99/GBP238.92 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing very rare, museum quality print in pristine condition, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For many academics the name of the engraver who executed this marvellous print is a mystery. The problem is that most of the forty-three plates (of which this is one) that make up the series, “Equile Ioannis Austriaci” (The Stable of Don John of Austria), are not signed. Fortunately, the choice of who the engraver might be is narrowed down to just three artists whose names are given on the few plates that are signed: Adriaen Collaert, Hendrik Goltzius and Hieronymus Wierix.

From a personal standpoint, the choice is not that hard as I would be highly surprised if the engraver were to be Adriaen Collaert. Collaert is a fine engraver capable of rendering surfaces in a very mimetic way using line and dot, but not in the same highly nuanced way that this mule and ass are drawn (see an example of Collaert’s approach to drawing horses and mules in the engraving, “Plate 4: A horse and two mules” ( To my mind this leaves the choice to be either the sublime, Goltzius, or Hieronymus Wierix—the man who killed a woman when he was drunk.

Again, Hieronymus Wierix can render the finest detail as if he worked entirely with a magnifying lens, but these animals are not drawn in the same way even though they are portrayed with a great deal of attention (see an example of H Wierix’s approach to drawing horses in the engraving, “Flight into Egypt” ( ). Wierix has unbelievable control of the burin, but his approach is a bit clinically cold and the treatment of the horses in this print make me feel as if the artist really knew about the muscles and bones under the flesh.

My choice of artist for the crown of attribution is Goltzius and the reason is fairly straight forward: the treatment of the shading uses dots placed between areas of cross-hatching and this is Goltzius’ signature device; the so called “dotted lozenge.” To my mind there is very little doubt that this beautiful print is executed by the master engraver: Hendrik Goltzius. Sadly, as my cook often points out to me: I have been wrong in the past.

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