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Tuesday 2 May 2017

Jan Saenredam’s engraving, Without Bacchus and Ceres, Venus Freezes”, c.1600

Jan Saenredam (c.1565–1607)
“Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus” (Without Bacchus and Ceres, Venus Freezes), c.1600, after Abraham Bloemaert (1564–1651), published by Jacques Razet (fl.1589–1609)

Engraving on laid paper trimmed to (or slightly within) the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 26.6 x 19.9 cm
Lettered with the title in the margin and two columns of text, each four lines "Ipsa Venus ... locum." by "SSH" (Simon Sovius). In lower left corner "Abrah. Blom. inv ISaenredam sculps.t" and at right "Iacobus Razet divulgavit.".

TIB 4 (3). 27 (228) (Walter L Strauss [Ed.] 1980, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 3, p. 337); Bartsch III.229.28 (Bartsch, Adam, Le Peintre graveur, 21 vols, Vienna, 1803); Roethlisberger 1993 59 (Roethlisberger, Marcel G; Röthlisberger, Marcel G, Abraham Bloemaert and his sons: Paintings and prints, 2 vols, Ghent, 1993); Hollstein 75 (Hollstein, F W H, Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700, Amsterdam, 1949); Nagler 28

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Venus accompanied by Bacchus, holding a bunch of grapes, Ceres, holding a sickle and Cupid, reaching towards the grapes; after Bloemaert”

Condition: richly inked and crisp early impression, trimmed to the image borderline (or slightly within it). The sheet shows light age-toning and there are stains, chipping of the corners and a small closed tear in the text area. There is a collector's stamp and traces of mounting (verso).

I am selling this VERY famous engraving by Saenredam that is seldom seen on the market for the total cost of AU$678 (currently US$509.50/EUR466.94/GBP394.46 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this major print that has many scholarly articles written about it, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Hendrick Goltzius’ influence on his pupil, Jan Saenredam, is hard to overlook in this print. My eyes, for instance, are drawn to the disciplined use of curved and subtly swelling contour strokes that exemplify what became known as Goltzius’ “Sprangerism”—a pejorative term for Goltzius’ fascination with the Mannerist excesses of Bartholomeus Spranger. Perhaps even more revealing is Saenredam’s adoption of Goltzius’ hallmark visual device: the dotted lozenge—a device designed to produce smooth tonal transitions by inserting a dot in the diamond shapes created by cross-hatched lines.

Regarding the curious title of this print, “Without Bacchus and Ceres, Venus Freezes”, the meaning symbolised by each of the mythological figures is simple: love grows cold without food and wine. Perhaps the best explanation is offered by Emily J. Peters (et al.) in the 2009 exhibition catalogue, “The Brilliant Line: Following the Early Modern Engraver, 1480-1650”:
“Drawing upon a Roman farce by Terence explained by the 16th-century humanist Erasmus, this image illustrates the idea that food and drink, the gifts of Ceres and Bacchus, nourish desire, as embodied by Venus. Saenredam united the three gods with reverberating reflections across the image and with a circular composition in which their limbs overlap. Cupid, god of lust, incites the desire, as he reaches to pluck one of Venus’s grapes.” (

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