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You are hereHarvey-LeeHomeHarvey-LeeMonthly Selection Harvey-LeeOld Masters Harvey-Lee Old Masters Archive 01

A Small Selection of Old Master Prints

Albrecht Durer, Emperor Maximilian I, 1519 Albrecht Durer, Emperor Maximilian I, 1519 Daniel Hopfer, Virgin and Child
Jacques de Gheyn, The Great Lion Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Turbaned Soldier on Horseback Marco Ricci, Landscape with Hill-Town, 1723

This link: Old Master Prints 02, will allow you to view the featured prints from the
subsequent selection of Old Master Prints

 


See also :

The Current Selections:

From a Recent Catalogue
Modern British Prints
Modern Continental Prints
Prints by Women
Prints under £250

Selections from the Home Page

Click on a thumbnail (left) to link directly with the entry for that print, or scroll down to view all this month's selection. Images are not at very high resolution.

If you require further information on any print featured here, please contact us. When a print has been sold it will be marked as Sold.




Albrecht Durer, Emperor Maximilian I, 1519

ALBRECHT DÜRER
Nuremberg 1471 – 1528 Nuremberg

Dürer made relatively few printed portraits; only eight, all dating from the last decade of his life, and only two which were produced as woodcuts. Dürer drew the charcoal portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor, on which the woodcut image (naturally in reverse) is based, from life. He annotated the drawing “This is the Emperor Maximilian, who I, Albrecht Dürer, portrayed at Augsburg in his little cabinet, high up in the palace, in the year reckoned 1518 on Monday after John Baptist’s” (28th of June). Dürer had gone to Augsburg to attend the Diet and to get Maximilian to ratify the pension of a hundred florins which he had granted him three years earlier. Maximilian died the following year. Dürer’s drawing was transferred to four woodblocks; the first block, which the other three followed (though the fourth block had different lettering and an elaborate framing border), was possibly cut in the Emperor’s lifetime, the others were produced as commemorative images. In its woodcut form, it was a portrait which quickly became iconic.

Emperor Maximilian I
Hollstein 255 Block 3 ii/iii; B.154         41.4 x 321 mm

Woodcut, after 1519. A very good impression, in the second state of three, before the crack in the block and before Dürer’s monogram (the 1st state is known only in a unique impression). On paper watermarked with a coat-of-arms. Trimmed just outside the borderline, with thread margins. Generally in good condition, a few printing creases, a central horizontal drying fold, a couple of repairs. 

£10000

Ex collection: the Dukes of Arenberg (Lugt 567)

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Lucas van Leyden, Mars, Venus and Cupid, 1530

LUCAS VAN LEYDEN
Leyden either 1489 or 1494 – 1533 Leyden

Mars, Venus and Cupid
Bartsch 137, New Hollstein 137 i/iii          190 x 245 mm

Original engraving, 1530. The plate monogrammed and dated. A good impression, Holl. 1b/c, on paper watermarked with the Gothic letters LU (virtually identical to the Hollstein illustrated watermark 1a found on a ‘1a’ impression at Rotterdam of Temperance, another engraving from 1530. Bricquet dates paper with similar Gothic letters LU to 1530) Thread margin or trimmed to the plate. One or two repaired short nicks or tears at the top edge, a little rubbed on Mars’ leg, repair to the knop of the sword, other small defects. 

Sold

Ex collection: The Princes & Dukes of Arenberg (Lugt 567)

A remarkable composition. Mars’ sword exactly halves the scene, while also serving as an anchor to the inner swirl encompassing the shield, bow and armour on the floor at the centre – and the outer circular design created in the relationship between the principal figures. The eye follows down Mars’ outstretched leg to Venus’ bent leg (both sets of legs identically posed but seen from different angles) up her right arm, through Cupid’s wing to Mar’s outstretched arm and the flow of the drapery at his head, down his back and back to his leg.
This compositional device also gives visual expression to the Renaissance abstract concept of the natural balance of opposing forces, here the battle between love and strife, unity and discord. Though as Ellen Jacobowitz (The Prints of Lucas van Leyden, 1983) also points out, the ball at the left (indicative of Mars’ uncertain state) which is used as a motif by Lucas in other ‘Power of Women’ images, suggests domination and instability, a love that is unsure, and therefore a moralizing statement on the sin of carnal love and adultery. The forceful physicality of the figures reflects the intensity of their inner spirit.

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Daniel Hopfer, Virgin and Child

DANIEL HOPFER
c1470 – 1536 Augsburg

A painter, and the son of a painter, Hopfer’s first profession was as an armourer in Augsburg. He is significant in being the first artist to adapt to intaglio printmaking (c1500) the contemporary armourers’ new development of etching ornament into iron. Hopfer favoured tonality set off by areas of patterning for which he invented a unique system of open bite which anticipated aquatint. In 1524 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V conferred a coat-of-arms on Hopfer for his ‘accomplishments in the service of the Emperor and the Empire’.

Virgin & Child with St Elizabeth (? Or St Anne?)
Three Generations of the Holy Family
Bartsch 39, Holstein 45 i/ii                  228 x 152 mm

Original etching. Signed with the monogram and fir cone symbol of Augsburg. A good impression. First state, before the later Funk number. Watermark: Cross amidst four roundels in a circle. The sheet trimmed to or just into the plate. A short repaired nick at the top edge. Two soft diagonal folds only visible on the reverse.

Sold

Iconographically a very unusual rendering of the theme which Bartsch describes as Mary with Jesus and
St Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin and the mother of St John the Baptist.

Pseudo-Bonaventura, filling a gap in the gospel narratives, relates that the Holy Family returning from Egypt visited Elizabeth, but usually this subject is portrayed with the infant St John acknowledging the Christchild.

However, another apocryphal theme, and one that was popular with artists in northern Europe, is the Virgin & Child with St Anne, the Virgin’s mother. In Hopfer’s print the tender relationship indicated by the outstretched hands of the child towards the elder woman suggests that the intended theme may be that of the three generations of the Holy Family. In this context the naturalness and charming reality of the response between grandson and grandmother is both highly inventive and exceptional in concept at the time.

Hopfer borrowed the Renaissance architectural setting in many of its details from an engraving by Benedetto Montagna (St Benedict instructing his Order, B 11).

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Jacques de Gheyn, The Great Lion

JACQUES DE GHEYN II
Antwerp 1565 – 1629 The Hague

De Gheyn was initially taught painting and etching by his father, a glass painter in Antwerp. About 1585 he learnt engraving in Goltzius’ workshop in Haarlem. His first signed plates date from 1588. The Lion is one of his earliest independent prints.

Engraved to his own design but before he set up his own publishing business, it was first issued by the Amsterdam publisher Joos de Bosscher; though on his death the following year, 1591, the year that
de Gheyn himself also moved to Amsterdam, the plate probably returned to de Gheyn, for it was amongst the stock of plates which de Gheyn sold, about 1601 (before settling permanently in The Hague), to the Amsterdam printseller Cornelis Claesz Visscher. In The Hague
de Gheyn worked principally as a painter and draughtsman, virtually giving up engraving.
De Gheyn’s plates subsequently passed from Cornelis Claesz to Claes Jansz Visscher (1587-1652), the most important publisher of his day in the Netherlands.

The Great Lion
“En leo magnaminus, vigilanti mente recumbens; verberet ut caudam, tollat ut ipse iubas. Nec fugiens, ne quem metuens sed promptus et acer ad prosternendum, se docet esse feram”
New Hollstein 170 ii/ii                          268 x 345 mm

Original engraving, c.1590. Signed. Second (final) state with Visscher’s address as publisher.  Trimmed to or just into the plate, generally outside the borderline except at the top right . An unobtrusive central vertical fold and other small defects.

 Sold

Ex collection: W. A. Baillie-Grohman (Lugt 370)

The Latin text praises the magnanimity, vigilance, vigour, intrepidity and fighting spirit of the lion. An unusual subject for de Gheyn, and his only animal print, Erika Michael has observed that it may well be symbolic (certainly suggested by the skull), perhaps referring to the Leo Belgicus (a map, in the shape of a lion, of the seventeen provinces that made up the Low Countries, devised by Michael Eitzinger, historian and cartographer to the Emperors Ferdinand II & Maximillius II, for his “History of the Low Countries” published in 1583 - almost all the provinces had a lion in their coats-of-arms). However the stance of de Gheyn’s lion is very different and apparently drawn from nature rather than heraldry. Beautifully observed and carried out, the print remains enigmatic.

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Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Turbaned Soldier on Horseback

REMBRANDT HARMENSZ VAN RIJN
Leyden 1606 – 1669 Amsterdam

The turbaned Soldier on Horseback
Bartsch 139, Hind 99 i/ii                              83 x 58 mm

Original etching, c.1632. Signed with the monogram RHL in reverse. First state of two with the uneven, inky plate edges. A fine impression printed with plate tone. Thread margins nearly all the way round. A tiny restored loss at the upper left edge, a short repaired tear at the lower left. Other small defects.

£15000

Provenance: the Viscount Down collection
(sold Sotheby’s 7 Dec.1972, lot 250)

A very scarce early plate, which did not survive. Usticke considered a total of about fifty to seventy-five impressions were printed from the plate.

The rider is following two companions at the left who are already descending a steep hill.

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Marco Ricci, Landscape with Hill-Town, 1723

MARCO RICCI
Belluno 1676 – 1729 Venice

Painter and etcher, the nephew, pupil and assistant of Sebastiano Ricci.

After some years in London, Marco Ricci returned to Italy in 1716 and settled in Venice, where he was an important figure in the revival of original etching. His later architectural capricci inspired Piranesi.
His earlier suite of twenty large landscapes, permeated with Venetian light, descend from the woodcuts of Titian’s landscapes. Etched in 1723, they were only published posthumously in the year after Ricci’s death.

Landscape with
a Hill-Town and straining Ox-Cart

Bartsch 5, Pilo 210                        291 x 434 mm

Original etching, 1723. Signed with the monogram. With the number and the additional separate text plate beneath, as published 1730 by Carlo Orsolini. A very good, bright impression on laid paper, watermarked with three crescent moons. The sheet with narrow margins. Slight stains. Trace of a central vertical crease only visible on the reverse. 

  £3000

Ex collection Loening (ex Lugt)

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