Gallery of prints for sale

Friday 10 February 2017

Jonas Umbach’s etching, “Neptune carried across the sea by a group of sea gods”

Jonas Umbach (1624–93)
“Neptune carried across the sea by a group of sea gods”, c.1690, published by Jeremias Wolff (1663–1724), (Note: the British Museum attribute the date of this print to 1645-1700; the Rijksmuseum propose the date, 1634–90. My attribution is based on the Jeremias Wolff’s active dates as a publisher in Augsburg, fl.1686–1724).

Etching on fine laid paper with margins and watermark (partial)
Size: (sheet) 10.9 x 14.1 cm; (plate) 8 x 11.8 cm
Signed in the plate at upper right: “Jonas Umbach f.”; numbered below the signature: “150.”; inscribed indistinctly at lower left with the address of Johann Balthasar Probst (1673–1748, an heir) and at lower right with publication details of Jeremias Wolff (1663– 1724, the publisher).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“Neptune sitting on a shell, followed by Tritons and sea gods.” (Neptunus, zittend in een schelp, gevolgd door tritons en zeegoden.) (  )
Nagler 121

Condition: marvellous impression in near faultless condition. There are remnants of mounting, a collector’s stamp and pencil notes (verso).

I am selling this rare original etching by Jonas Umbach for AU$224 (currently US$171.24/EUR160.85GBP137.11 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this remarkable 17th century print by an artist famed for his small etchings and for his skill in biting his printing plates only once in acid, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

In my previous posts featuring Umbach’s etchings I made the point that this artist’s approach to printing was remarkable because he famously only etched his plates a single time in acid. This may suggest that he was very relaxed and carefree about the crafting of his prints. After all, most of his fellow etchers went to a great deal of trouble to ensure that their plates were bitten in acid multiple times so that each print had a full complement of line qualities from rich blacks, arising from deep biting of the plate, to the faintest lines, arising from very shallow biting.

Close examination of this print, however, reveals that it was not executed by the hand of a lazy artist indifferent to achieving subtlety of tonal nuance. On the contrary, there is great subtlety exhibited in the rendering of light and shade. For example, the torso of the triton in the foreground at left, blowing a conch, is exceptionally finely handled with sensitive shaping of contour marks and careful tonal adjustments to address even the phenomenon of how reflected light from the sea illuminates the figure’s raised arm.

From my way of looking at this small and delicately drawn image, Umbach uses the single strength of line to discipline his vision when drawing. By this I mean that each mark has to be tailored to its specific role without any way to disguise poor drawing. In short, Umbach’s approach is very honest and only “works” if the artist has technical skill, training and insight.

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