Thursday, 5 January 2017
Herman van Swanevelt’s etching, “Small Waterfall”
Herman van Swanevelt (aka Herman Swaneveld) (1603–55)
“Small Waterfall” [La petite cascade] 1620–1655, from the series “Four Landscapes”
Etching on laid paper with large margins
Size: (sheet) 27.2 x 41.6 cm; (plate); 18.4 x 27.3 cm; (image borderline) 17.2 x 27 cm
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“View of a river valley with a waterfall in foreground, a single figure seated below the cliff on the right bank, drawing or writing, an inn on the left bank in far distance; lettered state; from a series of four plates.”
Inscribed below the image borderline: right) “Herman Van Swanevelt in. fe. [et ex]. Cum pr Re".
Hollstein 106.II; Bartsch ll.80 (293)
Condition: superb, museum-quality impression with large margins. The sheet is in near pristine condition for its age but there is an almost insignificant handling fold on the lower margin.
I am selling this original etching of the highest quality by Swanevelt for a total cost of AU$360 (currently US$263.06/EUR249.23/GBP213.37 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this jewel of a print, please contact me (email@example.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This print has been sold
Usually, the closer one looks at a Swanevelt print the more figures one sees. Unlike most of his other prints of landscapes populated with a scattering of folk during easily identifiable duties—chatting, taking a mule to where one takes mules, fishing and drinking from streams—this absolute gem of an etching has only one figure but it exemplifies everything that I love about Swanevelt. Let me explain …
Swanevelt’s first name, “Herman”, is not incidental. It is a nickname given to him—Herman the Hermit—and the name captures his spirit. Swanevelt was a hermit. Unlike hermits that sit in caves navel gazing, Swanevelt ventured into wild places especially landscapes where he could contemplate ancient ruins. This brings me to the importance of this small figure. I believe the figure is an artist who is drawing (or writing) in the “natural” landscape. I use the word “natural” because Swanevelt did not make images of ANY landscape. His choice was the “untouched” idyllic landscape. If I may push this point further, he made images of landscapes that were from the classical past and this is why the figure is garbed in a classical gown.
In short, what at first may seem like “just another picture of a stream with cascading water” this landscape captures the essence of Swanevelt’s way of looking at landscape: awe inspiring landscapes where people are small and the forces of nature and time are latent but powerfully strong.