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Tuesday 22 March 2022

Jan Sadeler I’s engraving, “Beheading of Saint James Major”, 1580, after Maarten de Vos

Jan Sadeler I (aka Johann Sadeler; Johannes Sadeler) (1550–1600)

“Beheading of Saint James Major” (TIB title), 1580(1584–1587), from the series of engravings, “Acts of the Apostles” (TIB 7001.166 and 7001.298–.302), after a lost drawing by Maarten de Vos (aka Marten de Vos; Maerten de Vos) (1532–1603), published by Jan Sadeler I.

Engraving on laid paper trimmed around the platemark and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 25 x 20.2 cm; (image borderline) 23.4 x 20 cm.

Inscribed in plate within the image borderline: (right of centre on lower edge) “.M. DE. VOS. INV[ENT]OR.”

Lettered in plate below the image borderline: “Herodes autem occidit …/ … Petrum, actu[m] 12./ J. sadeler fecit et excud:”.

State i (of i)

TIB 7001. 301 (Isabelle de Ramaix 2001, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 70, Part 2 [Supplement], New York, Abaris Books, p. 106, cat. no. [7001].301); Hollstein 328 (Dieuwke de Hoop Scheffer [comp.] 1980, “Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts ca. 1450–1700: Aegidius Sadeler to Raphael Sadeler II: text”, vol. 21, Amsterdam, Van Gendt & Co, p. 138, cat. no. 328); Hollstein (Vos) 886 (Christiaan Schuckman [comp.] 1996, “Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts ca. 1450–1700: Maarten de Vos: text”, vol. 44, Rotterdam, Sound and Vision Rijksprentenkabinet, p. 191, cat. no. 886); Edquist 37 (p. 116); Le Blanc 112; Wurzbach 99.

For those unfamiliar with the portrayed figure about to be beheaded, he is Saint James Major (aka the Greater) who was executed in Jerusalem in AD 44 by order of King Herod Agrippa and was the first apostle to be martyred for his faith (Acts 12:2).

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print: (Transl.) “By order of King Herod, the apostle James the Greater is publicly beheaded with the sword. the apostles John and Peter are publicly flogged by soldiers. In the background, apostles are arrested by soldiers. With a Latin caption with a Bible passage from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12:2). The third picture in a five-part series” ( Note that TIB includes the engraving, “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist” (TIB 7001.166) in the series which raises the number of plates to six in the series, “The Acts of the Apostles” (see Isabelle de Ramaix [2001] , p. 101).

Condition: a well-printed, slightly silvery early impression (based on the quality of the line showing no sign of wear to the printing plate) trimmed around the image borderline and laid onto a support of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. Beyond areas of thinning to the paper (visible if the sheet is held to the light) and pale age toning, the sheet is in a very good condition for its considerable age with no tears, holes, folds, significant stains or foxing.

I am selling this very rare, sensitively executed and beautiful engraving by one of the most famous of the Flemish old masters, for AU$370 (currently US$273.53/EUR248.89/GBP208.37 at the time of posting this print) including Express Mail (EMS) 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 small masterwork of engraving showing the beheading of the first of Christ’s Apostles to be martyred for their faith, 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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