Sunday 9 April 2017
Lucas van Leyden’s engraving, “St Andrew”, c.1510
Lucas van Leyden (aka Lucas de Leyda Hollandus; Luca Dolanda; Lucas Hugensz; Lucas Jacobsz) (c.1494–1533)
“St Andrew”, c.1510, the fourth in the series of fourteen plates, “Christ, Paul and the Twelve Apostles.”
Engraving on laid paper trimmed along the platemark with thread margins.
Size: (sheet) 11.6 x 7.2 cm
Lettered with the letter "L" at lower left next to the saint's feet
Bartsch (1803) VII.388.89; TIB (1981) 12 (7). 89 (388); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 89 (Lucas van Leyden)
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“St Andrew; facing right, holding book in his right hand and supporting his cross with his left. c.1510 Engraving” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1336949&partId=1&searchText=+Leyden+Andrew&page=1)
Condition: marvellous impression showing crisp detail. The sheet has been trimmed to the platemark and is age-toned in a soft and beautiful way. There are remnants of mounting verso and a tiny spot of abrasion (?) on the lower right corner but otherwise the sheet is in very good condition.
I am selling this original early engraving by one of the major old masters for AU$446 (currently US$334.57/EUR316.04/GBP270.41 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this graphically powerful and important engraving, please contact me (email@example.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This print has been sold
There are three key principles underpinning Van Leyden’s prints that this small but graphically strong engraving exemplifies.
The first principle is clarity of visual expression. What I mean by this type of clarity is that Van Leyden’s has limited what he portrays to the minimum: St Andrew holding the diagonal cross upon which he was martyred and his saintly status denoted by his radiating double halos.
The second principle is the illusion of spatial depth. Regarding this concern, Ellen S Jacobowitz & Stemphaie L Stepanek (1983) in “The Prints of Lucas van Leyden & His Contemporaries” (a marvellous exhibition catalogue published by the National Gallery of Art, Washington) propose that Van Leyden sought “deep penetration of the picture surface and the empirically logical organization of figures and form within three-dimensional space” (p. 19). Regarding this print, for example, note how Van Leyden “invites” the eye to move into the pictorial space with a gentle tonal change from the foreground and to follow the flow of the saint’s cloak around his body and over the intersecting beams of the cross guided by rhythms of folds in the material.
The third and final principle that I wish to lightly address is the way that Van Leyden translates colour, tone and texture into a visual code of marks. Note, for example, how Van Leyden’s lines change from the short “broken” lines representing the rough wood of the cross to long aligned marks depicting the smooth cover of the bible that the saint holds. Of even more interest to me is the use of radiating lines arranged in a spiky pattern to show the glaring light of the halo and how different this treatment of lines is to that employed to render St Andrew’s cloak and the floor. Regarding Van Leyden’s use of visual devices, Jacobowitz & Stepanek offer the following timeline:
“Before 1510, dense black and high contrast characterize the engravings. After 1512, gray tones and chiaroscuro effects dominate. From 1517 to 1520, the gray tone takes on a silvery appearance. By 1529, the shadow are saturated with light and the gray tones appear transparent” (p. 19)