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Allaert Claesz.

(born circa 1508 in Amsterdam, active in Utrecht and Amsterdam 1520–1555)

Joseph and the Wife of Potiphar. Engraving, lozenged. 8.5 x 6.5 cm. Hollstein 19.

According to Carel van Mander, Allaert Claesz., who was active in Amsterdam around 1525, taught Pieter Aertsen and was considered one of the foremost painters in the city at the time. Several attempts have been made to delineate his painted oeuvre more closely, but even now there is still no clearly defined picture of Claesz.’ work as a painter. His printed oeuvre, on the other hand, encompasses some two hundred works. Given their lack of stylistic uniformity, however, it can be assumed that several studio workers were involved in their execution.

The present engraving is of the utmost rarity. Hollstein men­tions just one impression from the collection of Freiherr von Lanna and there is none at all in the collection of the Rijks­pren­tenkabinet in Amsterdam. The work is a free repetition of a small circular engraving by Hans Sebald Beham, Hollstein 14. Claesz. added a floral border and made the depiction less offensive than the original by no longer showing Joseph’s member in an aroused state. The artist evidently did so out of consideration for the stricter morals he encountered in the Calvinist Netherlands. The work has been executed in a precise and intricate engraving technique which shows the master at the pinnacle of his art. A very fine, nuanced impression with thread margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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