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Sunday 21 April 2019

Gerard van der Gucht’s etching, “The Corbridge Lanx”, 1736

Gerard van der Gucht (aka Gerard Vandergucht; Gerard van de Gucht) (1696–1776)
“The Corbridge Lanx”, 1736, after the intermediary drawing by the antiquarian draughtsman, William Shaftoe (fl.c.1736), published in 1736.

The British Museum offers the following description of the design on the platter:
“Decorated silver platter or lanx. The scene shows, left to right: the goddess Artemis, holding a bow; the helmeted goddess Athena, her hand raised to indicate conversation; a standing female figure; a seated female figure; the god Apollo at the entrance to a shrine, holding a bow, his lyre at his feet. In the foreground stands an altar flanked by Artemis's hound and fallen stag and a griffin, a mythical beast associated with Apollo.”

The Curator of the BM offers the following insights about the discovery of the platter and the scene portrayed:
“A superlative late-Roman 'picture plate' designed for display. This magnificent silver platter was found by nine-year old Isabel Cutter in the bank of the River Tyne at Corbridge, near Hadrian's Wall, in February 1735. It is probable that gradual erosion of the river bank was washing out part of a fourth-century silver hoard, as other vessels were found there on various occasions between 1731 and 1760. Corbridge (Coriosopitum) was a Roman garrison town. The scene shows the god Apollo at the entrance to a shrine, holding a bow, his lyre at his feet. His twin sister Artemis (Diana), the hunter goddess, enters from the left, and the helmeted goddess with her hand raised to indicate conversation is Athena (Minerva). The two female figures in the centre are less obvious. The entire scene is clearly a shrine of Apollo. The Greek island of Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and Athena was also worshipped there. If the Delian shrine is depicted then the older woman sitting spinning may be Leto, the mother of the twins, and the standing woman her sister Ortygia, who was transformed into the island of Delos. In the foreground stands an altar flanked by Artemis's hound and fallen stag and a griffin, a mythical beast associated with Apollo. The decoration of the platter and its style indicate a fourth-century AD date. Its place of manufacture is unknown but may have been a major city in the Mediterranean, North Africa or Asia Minor.”

Etching with engraving on laid paper backed with a support sheet.
Size: (unevenly trimmed sheet) 47.3 x 54.4 cm; (plate) 46.3 x 52.5 cm; (image borderline) 38.6 x 50 cm.
Inscribed above the image borderline: (centre) “These Letters were Prick’t on … [transliteration: p(ondo) (ibrae?) XIIII (unciae?) III (scripula) II (transl.) 'Weight fourteen (pounds) three ounces and two scruples']”.
Lettered below the image borderline in two columns separated with a coat of arms: (left) “To the Most Noble Price CHARLES …/ …/ …/ …/ …/ Drawn from the Original peice [sic] of Plate by Wm. Shaftoe. which Peice [sic] of Plate is 20 Inches by 15.”; (centre below the coat of arms) “Published Pursuant to an Act of Parliament ye 31st of May 1736.”; (right) “This Print an exact representation …/ …/ …/ …/ …/ …/ Wm. Shaftoe/ Engraved by Ger.’d Vander Gucht.”
Lifetime impression from the first edition (1736).

Condition: richly inked, crisp and well-printed impression with unevenly trimmed margins laid upon a support of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. There are ink inscriptions from an earlier collector to the right margin, a small scratch/abrasion infilled with watercolour (virtually invisible) and there are minor blemishes, otherwise the print is in excellent condition for its considerable able—note that this impression is far superior to the copy held by the BM (cf. BM no. 1994,0201.1).

I am selling this large and exceptionally rare etching showing the finely crafted design on the famous silver platter, for the total price of AU$230 (currently US$164.57/EUR146.32/GBP126.61 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 amazing print featuring amongst the many fascinating details: a seldom seen view of a stag, an exceptionally elegant representation of a dog and a griffin that is so beautiful designed that it could make a tattooist’s toes curl—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold