Gallery of prints for sale

Friday 5 April 2019

Crispijn de Passe I's engraving, “The Hellespontine Sibyl”, 1601

Crispijn de Passe the Elder (aka Crispin van de Passe) (1564–1637)

“The Hellespontine Sibyl”, 1601, plate 5 from the series, “The Twelve Sibyls“ (aka “De Twaalf Sibillen”; “Sibyllarum Icones Elegantissimi”).

Engraving on laid paper with a small margin around the platemark and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 15.5 x 12 cm; (platemark) 14.5 x 11.2 cm; (roundel image borderline) 11.1 cm dia.
Lettered on plate along the roundel image borderline: “SIBYLLA HELLESPONTICA MARINESSENSIS EX AGRO TROIANO”.
Numbered and Lettered in six lines of Latin text below the image borderline: (centre) “Dum meditor …”; (right corner) “V."

Franken 290 (Daniel Franken 1975, “L'oeuvre gravé des Van de Passe” , vol. 19, Amsterdam, Scripta artis monographia, p. 39, cat. nos. 280–297); Hollstein Dutch 324 (Karel Gerard Boon & Jan Verbeek 1964, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts ca. 1450–1700”, vol. 15, Amsterdam, Menno Hertzberger en Co, p. 167, cat. nos. 314–331).

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
(Transl.) “Bust of the Hellespontian Sibille. In her right hand she holds three straws and in her left hand a book. The image is encased in a medallion with an inscription in Latin. In the margin a six line caption in Latin. Print from a series with the twelve sibyls.”

See also the brief description of this print at La Biblioteca Angelica:

Note: the Rijksmuseum translation proposes that the sibyl holds “three straws”, but the British Museum describes them in Thomas de Leu’s (c1555–c1612) copy in reverse of De Passe’s engraving as “three stems of bulrushes” (see  From my standpoint, the stems look more like stalks of wheat, which is closer to the Rijksmuseum’s vision.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the significance of this sibyl (i.e. a prophetess or oracle), Wikipedia advises that the Hellespontine Sibyl (aka the Trojan Sibyl) predicted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (see Going further, from my rather flimsy understanding of this sibyl, I believe that she also prophesied that Christ would be born in a lowly dwelling and of a virgin. Needless to say, there is a good chance that I may be wrong about this.

Condition: richly inked impression with strong contrasts. There is a closed tear at the lower centre of the right side, otherwise the sheet is in very good condition for its considerable age. The sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this small jewel of an engraving, featuring one of the better known ancient sibyls, for AU$197 (currently US$140.21/EUR124.87/GBP107.30 at the time of posting this print) 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 elegantly simple and very beautiful print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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