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Wednesday 8 August 2018

Nicolaes Rÿckeman’s engraving, “Pieta”, c1623

Nicolaes Rÿckemans (aka Nicolaes Rijckmans; Nicolaes Ryckmans) (fl.1616–1626)

“Pieta” (aka “Chirst à la paille”; “The Entombment”), 1620–1626, after Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). The Curator of the British Museum advises that the engraving is after “the central panel of Rubens' triptych 'Christ à la paille' in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, (Rooses 327); painted in 1618 for the tomb chapel of Jan Michielsen and his wife Maria Maes” (BM no. R,3.83).

Engraving on laid paper trimmed close to the platemark with narrow margins around the image borderline, backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 28 x 19.8 cm; (image borderline) 27.1 x 19.3 cm
Lettered on plate within the image borderline along the lower edge: (right of centre) “P. P. Rubens in.” (left) “Nicolaes Ryckemans sculp."
Lettered on plate below the image borderline in a line of Latin: (centre) "Aspicientes in Auctorem fidei et Consumatorem Lesum. Ad. Hebr. 12."

Hollstein Dutch 12; Schneevoogt 1873 54.394 (C G Voorhelm Schneevoogt 1873, “Catalogue des estampes gravées d'après P.P.Rubens”, Haarlem); Corpus Rubenianum VI 64 (copy 22) (J Richard Judson 2000, “The Passion of Christ”, VI, Turnhout, Harvey Miller Publishers)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Chirst à la paille or the Entombment; the body of Christ carried on a cloth-stretcher by St Joseph of Arimathaea towards the tomb inside a rock overlayed with straw at right; at left the Virgin looking to the heavens and holding the shroud; St Mary Magdalene behind her; St John the Evangelist standing in background; after Peter Paul Rubens”
See also the description of this print at the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: well-printed impression, slightly abraded and age-toned (i.e. unevenly yellowed), trimmed close to the platemark and backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this emotionally charged and graphically strong portrayal of Christ’s entombment, for the total cost of AU$223 (currently US$164.37/EUR141.77/GBP126.75 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 engraved gem from the Baroque Period, after the almost legendary master, Rubens, and executed by Rÿckemans at the time he was working for Rubens, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Although the expressed pathos of this image of Christ’s entombment is clear—note for example the wringing hands and tears of St Mary Magdalene on the far left, the tear-shiny eyes of the Virgin looking to the heavens above and her emotional pain made visible by her extended little finger as she holds up Christ’s shroud—there are other far more subtle visual devices that fascinate me.

What I find extraordinarily insightful is Rÿckeman’s echoed use (in the sense of duplication) of a set of curved parallel lines visually “explaining” the contours of Christ’s shoulder supported by St Joseph of Arimathaea on the far right and which are matched by the same curves on Christ’s lower arm. From my way of looking at the echoing of these sets of very intentionally inscribed lines, they not only describe the form of Christ's arm and its tone in the shadows, but they also project the notion of an arm that is lifeless—dead.

Even more interesting for me is Rÿckeman’s use of what I will describe as “shadow haloes” (often termed as exotopic tone) surrounding Christ’s hands. From my standpoint, I see the effect of these haloes as pictorially flattening and inlaying the hands into the surrounding drapery. To be honest, I am undecided whether this merging of the hands with their surroundings necessarily connotes that Christ’s hands are lifeless. Nevertheless, to my eyes the merging certainly adds a note of eerie transcendence to the scene.

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