Gallery of prints for sale

Friday 10 May 2019

Crispijn de Passe the Elder's engraving, "Sibylla Europaea", 1601

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

“Sibylla Europaea” (aka “The European Sibyl”; “Europese Sibille”), 1601, plate 9 from the series of eighteen plates—including 16 medallion prints, a titlepage and a coat of arms—“The Twelve Sibyls“ (aka “De Twaalf Sibillen”; “Sibyllarum Icones Elegantissimi”).

Regarding this print, the Curator of the British Museum advises:
“A painting of the same Sibyl is attributed to Abraham Janssens I, now at Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, 5151; it is possible Janssens worked after Passe. [Information from Nanny Schrijvers]” (BM no. 1875,0710.317).

Engraving with etching on laid paper trimmed close to the platemark and backed with a support sheet. Note that with the restoration there is
Size: (sheet) 15 x 11.5 cm; (roundel image borderline) 11.4 cm dia.
Lettered on plate along the roundel image borderline: “SIBYLLA EVROPAEA INCERTAE ADHVC PATRIAE EXISTENS”.
Numbered on plate at lower right corner: “9.”
Lettered on plate in six lines of Latin text below the image borderline: (centre) "Virginis æternum ... gnatus."

For those wondering about the meaning of the six lines of text inscribed below the image, Martin Droeshout (1601–c1639)—the artist famous for his engraving of Shakespeare’s portrait—made a series of copies of Crispijn de Passe’s sibyls and inscribed the following text beneath this print (in my fault laden translation):

“The eternal word shall from a virgin flow,
Pass through the mountains high and valleys low;
For to his will sent from the spangled sky,
He shall be poor in a manger lie,
And yet a king for his glory shine;
Born both in human nature and divine.”

Franken 292 (Daniel Franken 1975, “L'oeuvre gravé des Van de Passe” , vol. 19, Amsterdam, Scripta artis monographia, p. 39, cat. nos. 280–297); Hollstein Dutch 326 (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 European Sibyl. In her left hand she holds an open book and in her right hand a sceptre. The performance 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 description of this print at the British Museum:

Condition: richly inked impression with strong contrasts but in a poor condition. There are replenished losses at the upper border of the image and significant abrading of the surface outside the circular image borderline. The sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this battered but still very beautiful engraving from 1601 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 sensitively rendered engraving—note the use of “white” lines in portraying the hair and the sensuously curved lines describing the elegant tilt of the sibyl’s neck—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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