Tuesday, 26 May 2020
Swelinck’s engraving, “Sibe Nequam Cui Bonus?”, 1712
Jan Gerritsz Swelinck (1601–c.1649) after the design by Adriaen van der Venne (aka Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne) (1589–1662)
“Sibe Nequam Cui Bonus?” (“Who is hurtful to himself, benefits no one”; “To whom is one good who is bad for himself?”; “He is a fool that forgets himself”—an old English proverb (c.1270) revived in Chaucer’s “Troylus”: “He is a fool that wol for-yete himselve” ), 1712 (note that there are earlier versions of this design), plate XXXIV (34) in Jacob Cats’ (1577–1660)—known with respect and affection as “Father Cats”—1712 edition of “Alle de Wercken van den heere Jacob Cats …” (Complete Works of Jacob Cats) (aka “Alle de wercken van den Heere Jacob Cats. De laatste druck: war in het Twee-entachtig jaarig leeven des dichters, beneffens desselfs slaapeloose nachten, met printverbeeldingen sijn verrijkt”), published in Amsterdam by J. Ratelband, p. 68.
The publication (“Alle de Wercken van den heere Jacob Cats …”) in which this print features may be viewed online or downloaded free-of-charge from archive.org (this print features in the text on page 68 and online on page 98):
My understanding of this proverb (“Sibe Nequam Cui Bonus?”)—which may be far from the intended meaning—is that one should not place oneself in unnecessary danger as the outcome is not helpful to anyone, but rather one should enjoy life and let your pleasure spread to others. Regarding the image of the small bird within the jaws of a crocodile, the composition may be understood in terms of the following crude translation from a similar emblem print: “Do as the pretty bird that satisfies its fill on the banks of Nile without offering service to the Crocodile.” (My apologies to those who know the true meaning.)
Engraving on heavy laid paper with letterpress text recto and verso in Dutch, Latin and French and full margins as published.
Size: (sheet) 45.6 x 27.8 cm; (plate) 12.5 x 12.5 cm; (image borderline) 12.1 x 12.1 cm.
Numbered and lettered above the plate: (left) "68"; (centre) “SIBE NEQUAM CUI BONUS?/ XXXIV.”
Lettered in two columns below the plate (and verso) in lines of Dutch, Latin and French.
A brief description of this print is offered by the New York Public Library (digital collection):
Condition: full page (as published) in pristine condition apart from several printer’s creases created in the printing process.
I am selling this magnificent, museum-quality leaf for the total cost of AU$197 (currently US$131.06/EUR119.50/GBP106.35 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this superb engraving of the highest quality on the huge, double-sided, lettered sheet as published, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.