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Saturday 16 April 2022

Daniel Hopfer’s etching, “The Pharisees Blocking the Entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven”, c1520

Daniel Hopfer (1471–1536)

“The Pharisees Blocking the Entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven”, c1520, first panel (upper-left) of eight panels, from the large composite etching, “The Seven Woes” (aka “Matthew 23.13ff” (aka “Les vices que Jésus Christ reproche aux scribes et aux pharisiens …” [The vices that Jesus Christ reproaches the scribes and the Pharisees …]), c1520, published by David Funck (fl.1682–1709) in Nuremberg in “Opera Hopferiana.”

Although this panel is one of the eight panels of the composite etching “seven woes” (i.e. vices) that Christ reproached the “scribes and the Pharisees” in his teachings, the inconsistency between the number of panels in the composite etching (8) and the numbers of woes (7) may be explained by variation in the number of woes cited in the Gospels (viz. Matthew has eight woes—Mathew 23, verses 13 to 16, 23, 25, 27 and 29—and these are illustrated in the composite print, whereas Luke has only six woes).

Regarding the publication of the Hopfer’s etchings, Robert A Koch (1981) in vol., 7 of TIB advises in his editor’s note: “In the 17th century a Nuremberg publisher named David Funck numbered 230 of [… Hopfer’s] plates and issued a volume entitled ‘Opera Hopferiana.’ In 1802 a publisher named C. Wilhelm Silberberg in Frankfurt-am-Main reissued 92 plates with the Funck numbers in a volume which he also entitled ‘Opera Hopferiana.’ These plates were printed on unnumbered pages of a heavy wove paper.” Mindful of the two editions, as this impression is on early laid paper it is from Funck's 17th century edition.

Iron etching on laid paper trimmed with a small margin around the borderline and stamped in violet ink verso with the monogram of Ed. Schultze (Lugt 906 [violet]).

Regarding the collector’s stamp, this mark is presumably from the important sale of Schultze’s collection in Munich (7-15 February, 1901), as detailed by Frits Lugt (2002), including (transl.) “a Cranach, Dürer (‘Saint Jerome in his Cell’ 1200 M., ‘The Triumphal Chariot of Maximilian’ 1600 M.), van Meckenen (‘The Virgin and Child, Saint Bernard and Saint Catherine’ 1750 M.), Master E. S., ‘Christ on the Cross’ 4650 M. (highest price of the sale, at the Berlin Cabinet), Schongauer (‘The Man of Sorrows’ 2200 M.), Zwott (‘The Adoration of the Kings’, 2000 M.) …” (p. 159).

Size: (sheet) 13.4 x 10.6 cm; (image borderline) 12.6 x 9.8 cm.

Inscribed in plate at upper centre with the passage from Matthew 23:13 (NIV transl.) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (

TIB 17.31 (481) (Robert A. Koch 1981, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Early German Masters”, vol., 17, New York, Abaris Books, p. 109, cat. no. 31 [181]); Hollstein 34.1; Bartsch VIII.481.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “The pharisees blocking the entrance to the kingdom of heaven; first scene only of eight illustrations to Mathew 23, 13-31./ Etching” (

The British Museum offers the following description of the composite print in which this panel features:

“The seven woes; eight illustrations to Mathew 23, 13-31; with Christ showing the apostles the misdeeds of the pharisees, scribes and contemporary clerics” (

Condition: a richly inked, strong and well-printed impression trimmed with a small margin around the image borderline. There are minor surface marks, pin holes at upper left, a collector’s ink stamp and pencil notations of previous collectors (verso), otherwise the sheet is in a very good condition for its considerable age.

I am selling this panel from a larger composite etching of eight panels by the first artist to use etching for prints on paper, for the total cost of AU$374 (currently US$276.69/EUR255.83/GBP211.82 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 important old-master 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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