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antoine couchet
(1630–1678, Antwerp)

Tempus (The Allegory of Time). Engraving after Pieter Paul Rubens. 42.5 x 34 cm. Hollstein 2 II (von III). Watermark: Strasbourg Lily.

Antoine Couchet, who hailed from Antwerp, is one of the lesser known Rubens engravers. His printed œuvre is not very extensive – Hollstein records just four prints. However, the Allegory of Time shows him to be a fully-fledged member of the Rubens school. It is clear from this print that Couchet is an experienced and able engraver, who in the mastery of his trade bears comparison with the likes of Paulus Pontius and Lucas Vorsterman. It demonstrates how high the technical standards of the Rubens engravers were. Rubens himself was fully aware of the signifi cance of the medium, as the reproductive engravings after his paintings and inventions spread his fame to the furthest corners of Europe.

The bearded ancient Chronos, whose magnificent wings and powerful body make an awesome impression, crowns Labor, the personifi cation of work, with a laurel wreath, while punishing idleness with a rod. To the left Fama is blowing on a trombone. On the horizon we see a prosperous city, while behind the personifi cation of laziness the silhouette of a barren hill with a gallows looms. This gives rise to a universally valid image of human virtue and vice.

A superb, even and harmonious impression with margins around the platemark, the guiding lines for the inscription still clearly visible. Before the cancellation of Rubens’ name and before the French and Flemish verses. In excellent condition.