Gallery of prints for sale

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Daniel Hopfer’s etching, “Design for Ornamental Ceiling”, c.1505–36

Daniel Hopfer (1471–1536)
“Design for Ornamental Ceiling” (Composition d’ornemens), c.1505–36, from the C. Wilhelm Silberberg (1802) edition

Etching on heavy wove paper with margins laid on a conservator’s support sheet
Size: (sheet) 22 x 29.3 cm; (plate) 15.8 x 23.6 cm
Signed with monogram at centre: “D H”

TIB 17 (8). 109 (500) (Walter L Strauss & Robert A Koch [Eds.] 1981, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 17, p. 180); Bartsch VIII.500.109; Hollstein 120.I; Funck 136; Eyssen 113

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Ornament panel with various ceiling designs; a candelabra motif along upper edge; a semi-circle at lower centre, surrounded by four segments with birds, female half-length figures, cherubs, etc among foliage.” (

Condition: richly inked, crisp impression with generous margins in excellent condition, laid onto a conservator’s sheet of fine washi paper.

I am selling this iron etching by the legendary Daniel Hopfer—the first artist to use etching for prints on paper—for the total cost of AU$174 (currently US$129.57/EUR116.08/GBP100.64 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this ornamental design from the Renaissance era, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Tonight’s discussion didn’t go to plan as the print that I had intended to talk about—a stunning Japanese woodblock print by the legendary Utagawa Hiroshige—needed too much research and I simply ran out of time. Consequently, I’m back to showing a much easier to research print by the first artist to make an etching (in the sense of a formal print) the equally legendary Daniel Hopfer.

The reason that I mentioned my plan to discuss Hiroshige is not incidental as at the moment my brain is still back to thinking about how the compositions underpinning Japanese prints are designed to be read and how the Japanese approach to design is so different to my own—the Western approach.

To explain what I mean, when I look at this Hopfer I can see a considerable difference of intention even concerning seemingly trivial issues. For instance, Japanese prints do not rely on the same Western conventions of light and shade to render form. Indeed, with the exception of only one print that I can recall—and it was copying Western conventions and so it doesn’t really count—no traditional Japanese print uses side lighting. By contrast, in the case of this Hopfer, the rendering of forms (e.g. the mermaids featured on the left) show clear use of side lighting to make their bodies seem three-dimensional. I must hasten to mention, however, that Hopfer use of side lighting is inconsistent as the mermaids are lit for the top right, whereas the bird flapping its winds below the mermaids is lit from the bottom right. Of course, as this is a design created for ceilings, Hopfer choice to use light coming from a range of directions is fully understandable given that the design is for rooms with unknown light sources. 

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