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Saturday 30 December 2017

Johannes Wierix’s engraving, “Antiochus' Army Killing the Jews during the Sabbath”, 1579

Johannes Wierix (aka. Jan Wierix) (1539–1620 [BM dates])

“L’épreuve du sabbat au desert” (Mauquoy-Hendrickx [cat. raisonné] title) (aka. “Antiochus' Army Killing the Jews during the Sabbath” (Met. title) 1579, plate 3 from the series of 8 plates, “Histoire des Machabées” (Mauquoy-Hendrickx title), after Gerard van Groeningen (fl.1550–1599), published by Gerard de Jode (1509/17–1591) in “Thesaurus Sacrarum Historiarum veteris testamenti, elegantissimis imaginabus expressum excellentissimorum in hac arte virorum opera: nunc primum in lucem editus” (Google Transl. “Treasure holy history of the Old Testament elegant imaginabor expressed in this excellent works of art, now for the first time to light”)

Engraving on fine laid paper printed in a warm-grey (brownish) ink with small margins.
Size: (sheet) 21.9 x 30.2 cm; (plate) 20.4 x 28.5 cm
Inscribed below the image borderline: “Ne sabatum violent abstinent praelio et munitionibus  Iacobitae: satius ducentes in simplicitate mori. quam praecepta dei sui transgredi / Machab: i. Cap: 2.” (Google transl. “Do not violate the Sabbath they abstain from the battle, and the strong holds, Iacobitae: leading us on to his integrity is better to die. How to go beyond the rules of its own”)
Numbered below the image borderline at right: “3”.
Note: only two plates in this series of eight engravings are signed: Plate 2 and Plate 8.
Lifetime impression; state i (of ii) before the addition of “38” in the verse (see Mauquoy-Hendrickx vol. 1, p. 8, no. 48 ii)

Mauquoy-Hendrickx 48 (Marie Mauquoy-Hendrickx 1978, “Les Estampes Des Wierix”, vol. 1, [ref.] p. 8, [Illustr.] p. 5); Hollstein 64.I (Wierix) (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam); NH (Groeningen) I.84.53 i/ii
Condition: crisp, well-printed, slightly silvery impression with small margins (varying between 5–10 mms). The lower left corner has an additional tab of paper attached and the sheet has signs of wear (i.e. there is a light surface patina of dust and age toning and there are minor chips, pencil marks at the top left and thin areas in the margin) otherwise the sheet is in good condition for its age (i.e. there are no significant tears, holes, folds, stains or foxing).

I am selling this masterpiece of early engraving for the total cost of AU$286 (currently US$223.58/EUR186.28/GBP165.59 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this exemplary image of the Baroque period style, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Should anyone be searching for an image that exemplifies extreme/“over-the-top” action, then this engraving would fit the description perfectly.

Johannes Wierix, who made the print, was as wild a man—I described him in a previous post as a “disorderly drunk who had a penchant for upsetting his employer by ‘losing’ himself at the local tavern and by pawning his engraving tools.” Indeed, mindful of his leaning towards disorderly behaviour, this very Baroque composition with its layering of convoluted rhythms seems very appropriate.

What I find especially interesting about all of the turmoil that he portrays is that within the disarray are recurrent themes that are arguably a part of Netherlandish interests at the time:

- the theme of vanitas (note the regenerating shoots arising from the “dead” tree in the foreground);

- the notion of Weltlandschaft/“World Landscape” (note the elevated panoramic viewpoint and fascination with caves); and,

- a love of rugged terrain (note the incredibly sharp pointy mountains in the distant left).

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