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Tuesday 9 June 2020

Catharina Sperling-Heckel’s engraving, “Aquila Pullos Gestans”, c.1731

Catharina Sperling-Heckel (aka Catharina Sperlingin; Catharina Heckel; Catharina Sperling) (1699–1741)

“Aquila Pullos Gestans” (aka “The eagle chicks carrier”), published in 1731 in Augsburg by Johann Andreas Pfeffel (1674–1748) as Plate CLXVI (166) to Johann Jacob Scheuchzer’s (1672–1733) first volume (page 186), “Physica Sacra: Iconibus Æneis Illustrata” (aka “Kupfer-Bibel, in welcher die Physica Sacra, oder Geheiligte Natur-Wissenschafft derer In Heil. Schrifft vorkommenden natürlichen Sachen, deutlich erklärt und bewährt“)—one of the most lavish (and expensive) books devoted to the Bible—illustrating verse 4, chapter 19 from Exodus: “Vos vidistis, quae feci Aegyptiis, & gestaui eos Super Alis Aquilarum, & duxi vos ad me.” ([transl.] You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and they carry them on eagles' wings and brought you to me.)

This publication may be viewed online or downloaded free-of-charge from

Engraving on fine watermarked laid paper with full margins as published in 1731.
Size: (sheet) 42.3 x 25.9 cm; (plate) 31.2 x 19.7 cm.
Numbered and lettered on plate: (upper-right corner): “TAB. CLXVI.”; (lower-left corner) “EXODI Cap. XIX. v.4./ Aquila pullos gestans.” (lower-right corner) “II. Buch [Exodus] Cap. XIX. V. 4./ Der Adler tragt feine Sitngen./ Catharina Sperlingin sculp.”; with eight inscribed medals and numbered shell cartouches (“I” to “IV”).

This is one of the original engravings published in the first (1731) edition of Scheuchez’s almost legendary, “Physica Sacra” (Sacred Physics). I use the word “legendary” as very few books were created with such care, expense and with so many engraved illustrations as this extraordinary book.

For those unfamiliar with “Physica Sacra”, this huge publication was based on what we now know to be a flawed premise: Scheuchez believed that he had irrefutable proof that the events described in the Old Testament were all true because he had the fossilised remains of a victim of the Great Flood (see Genesis chapters 6–9). Sadly, when the “fossilised victim” was later examined by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1811, Cuvier's findings revealed that the "victim" was in fact a large prehistoric salamander.

Condition: a well-printed lifetime impression. The sheet is in near pristine/museum quality condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, losses, stains, foxing or signs of use).

I am selling this spectacularly fine page from one of the most lavish publications ever made for AU$230 (currently US$159/EUR141.21/GBP125.65 at the time of posting 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 remarkable 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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