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Monday 30 July 2018

Zacharias Dolendo’s engraving, “Christ before Caiaphas”, c1597

Zacharias Dolendo (aka Zacharias Dolen) (1561–c1600)

“Christ before Caiaphas”, 1596–98, after Karel van Mander I (1548–1606), plate 4 from the series of 14 plates (including the title print [New Hollstein 36-49]), “The Passion”, published by Jacques de Gheyn II (aka Jacob de Geyn) (1565–1629).

Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed with thread margins around the image borderline (except for the lower margin which retains the inscribed number “4”) and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 14.5 x 10.4 cm
Inscribed on plate along the lower edge within the image borderline: (left) "KVMandere inuen, Z, Do, scul,"; (left of centre) "DGheÿn exc".
Numbered on plate below the image borderline: (left) "4".
State ii (of ii) My attribution of this impression to the second state is based on comparison of the BM’s first state impression (1868,0612.444) with the second state impression held by the Rijksmuseum (RP-P-BI-7129). There doesn’t seems to be any difference in the inscribed lettering but I see a difference in the treatment of the distance wall as in the second state the vertical lines appear to be redrawn with greater strength.

New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 40.I (The De Gheyn family); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 60 (Karel van Mander)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Christ before Caiaphas; Christ is presented by a group of soldiers to five priests in full regalia, including Caiaphas; one of the soldiers draws back his arm to hit Christ; after Karel van Mander”
See also the description of this print at the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with restored light abrasions, trimmed to the image borderline and backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in good condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, significant stains or foxing). There are ink notes by an old hand below the image borderline (recto).

I am selling this exquisitely rendered and graphically strong engraving, for the total cost of AU$268 (currently US$198.14/EUR169.57/GBP151.05 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this very beautiful oldmaster engaraving executed before the time of Rembrandt, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For those who like to know the nitty gritty detail about artists’ personal lives, the British Museum offers the following insight—a little unexciting I have to admit—about Zacharias Dolendo (who engraved this plate) based on the account offered by van Mander (whose design Dolendo employed for its composition): “he made a good living, but died young after leading a riotous life, with too much drinking.” ( To be honest, I wish I knew more about his “riotous life” but … I don’t.

What interests me about artists who live riotous lives is that their artworks, like this beautiful engraving, are invariably emotionally charged, but are also inexplicably rendered with delicate detail—here I am thinking about one of the most important of the early engravers, Hieronymus Wierix (purportedly a woman killer), Cornelis Schut (another old master with a proclivity for murder) and not to forget the exploits of the great Caravaggio.

Certainly, from my way of looking at the finely rendered details in this scene from Christ’s passion (John 18:13, 18:19–24), the artist’s hand was not concerned with “neatness”—to borrow Michael Bryan’s (1886) phrase in describing Dolento’s style in “Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers” (3rd edition, p. 417). Instead, I see the portrayed figures' forms as highly expressive in the way they are drawn. Note, for example, how the almost mechanical vertical lines describing the architecture—especially the distant arched wall—contrast with and give meaning to the emotionally charged interactions of the figures. In short, what Dolento has achieved with his exceptionally fine rendering style is to portray latent violence by contrast of juxtaposed treatments.

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