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Tuesday 19 June 2018

Philips Galle’s engraving, “Tagus”, 1586

Philips Galle (aka Philippe Galle; Philippus Gallaeus) (1537–1612)

“Tagus”, 1586, plate 13 from the series of seventeen plates—note that the BM advises that there are sixteen plates in the series (see the curator’s comment for BM no. 1942,0720.1.35), but this is incorrect based on the TIB catalogue of plates (see 5601.090:1 to 5601:090:17), “Semideorum Marinorum Amnicorumque Sigillariæ Imagines Perelegantes” (River and Sea Gods) (Hollstein 316-332 [Ph. Galle]), published by Philips Galle in Amsterdam.

Engraving on laid paper, trimmed along the image borderline and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 16.5 x 9.9 cm
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) "Phls Gall. inuen." (trimmed before “et Sculpl.”); (centre) "TAGVS."; (right) "13."
State i (of ii) Note that the attribution of this impression to the first state is based on the text line being the same as the first state impression held by the Rijksmuseum (RP-P-1898-A-19957) but there may be other changes to the plate for the second state that I have not been able to ascertain.

TIB 1987 5601.090:13 (Arno Dolders & Walter Strauss [eds.] 1987, vol. 56, Supplement, p. 351); Hollstein 316-332 (Philips Galle); New Hollstein Dutch 425-1 (2)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Personification of the river Tagus as a bearded, nude male figure seen in profile to the left, seated on an stone block, his hand resting on a seashell spilling water; beyond at left is a boat and in the background a view of Lisbon.”
See also the Rijksmuseum’s description of this print:

Condition: crisp impression with printer’s creases that have been touched with watercolour to minimise their intrusion. The sheet has been trimmed along the image borderline with a line of text removed below the image borderline (“et Sculp”) and missing edges restored. The sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this visually arresting image of the river-god, Tagus, created by one of the most famous old master engravers of the sixteen century, for ... [deleted] including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this marvellous print engraved only a couple of decades after Michelangelo put down his brushes after completing the “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For those (like myself until earlier this evening) who may be wondering about the title of this print, “Tagus”, the name is taken from the river of the same name on the border of Spain and Portugal that empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Lisbon. The naked chap in the foreground is Galle’s vision of the mythological river-god of the region who is portrayed filling the river from a conch shell. For those living around Lisbon, Galle depicts how the port once looked in the distance beyond the river-god. Fortunately I will soon be able to check how much the city has changed as my wonderful cook is soon to pack our bags and take me there in a few months’ time … wacko!

Regarding the context of this river god, the print is part of an even larger series of thirty-eight engravings held by the British Museum (in a bound album) than the seventeen plates of the "River and Sea Gods" engraved by Galle. The Curator of the British Museum advises that this album “combines various (partial) series engraved by de Passe [Crispijn de Passe the Elder] and others after Maarten de Vos …” (See BM no. 1942,0720.1.11).

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