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Friday 4 August 2023

Nicolaes Berchem’s etching, “Three Goats” (2nd impression)

Nicolaes Berchem (aka Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem; Nicolaes Berchen; Niclas Berghem; Claes Berighem; Nicolaes Pietersz.Berrighem) (1624–1683)

For those interested in the origins of names, I have always believed the old story that Nicholaes Berchem had acquired his name from the cries of his mates who yelled, “Berg hem! Berg hem!” (Save him! Save him!), when Nicolaes was trying to escape the wrath and a beating from his father—the famous still-life painter, Pieter Claesz. Although I still love this story, the truth may be much less colourful as I have now read an interesting article by Michael Prodger (2020) who explains: “Berchem is the name of his father’s home town” (see “The greats outdoors: How Nicolaes Berchem offered vistas of a golden Arcadia …” []).

“Three Goats” (aka “Un Jeune Bouc vu par derrière …” [Bartsch title]), c1650 (1648–1652), from the series of eight plates (including the title plate) showing various animals, “Animalia” (aka “Animals”; “Animalia ad vivum delineata et aqua forti aeri impressa Studio et Arte Nicolai Berchemi”; “A Man’s Sketchbook II” [TIB title]), published in the third state by Clement de Jonghe (aka Clemendt Ionghe; Clement de Jonge) (1624/25–1677) in Amsterdam.

The Curator of the British Museum offers the following insights about this print: “Although this print does not bear the artist's name, it was probably made by Berchem since other prints from this series show his name. This is first state which is unfinished in many parts … ( See also the description of the title plate (frontispiece) to the series offered by the British Museum:

Etching on laid paper.

Size: (sheet) 12.4 x 14.5 cm; (plate) 10.1 x 11.4 cm.

State i (of vii) before the addition of the letter “b” in the top right corner, the number “5” in the lower left corner and the repeat of the number "5" in the lower right corner.

TIB 7(5).52(280) (Otto Naumann 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol. 7, New York, Abaris Books, p. 79, cat. no. 53 [ 280]); Hollstein Dutch 53.I.

See also: Pieter Biesboer et al. 2006, “Nicolaes Berchem: In the Light of Italy”, Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, pp. 124–25, cat. no. P83.

The Rijksmuseum offers a description of this print from the third state:

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:

“Three he-goats. A he-goat standing in the centre seen from the back and his face turned in profile to the left, a recumbent goat to the left, a bleating goat standing in the background; unfinished in many parts; from a series of eight plates showing various animals/ Etching” (

Condition: a richly inked and well-printed (near faultless) impression with reasonably wide margins (varying between .8 to 1.9 cm) around the platemark. The sheet is in a near pristine/museum quality condition with no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing

Note that this is the second copy of this print that I have listed. The previous listed copy has been sold.

I am selling this magnificent first state (lifetime) impression of three he-goats on a grassy mound—note how Berchem has varied the depth of the etched lines separating the foreground goats from the one further back so that the more distant goat appears lighter in tone—for the total cost of AU$308 (currently US$205.87/EUR186.27/GBP163.97 at the time of posting this listing) 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 sensitively executed and subtly animated etching, 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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