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Anthonis Sallaert

(c. 1590 Brussels? – 1658 Brussels)

The Evangelist Matthew Writing the Gospel; the Evangelist Luke Painting the Madonna. Two woodcuts on brownish, oat-meal paper, each measuring c. 13.7 x 11.1 cm. Hollstein 3, 5.

It is primarily in his printed work that Anthonis Sallaert shows himself to be one of the most original artistic personalities of Flemish art during the Rubens era. Whereas as a painter he took account of the zeitgeist by creating ambitious figure compositions and portraits in the Rubens manner, his prints, especially the fascinating monotypes, have an unmistakably experimental character. Sallaert’s etchings and woodcuts are extremely rare, so the editions must have been very small.

A glance at the two woodcuts shown here is enough to make us aware of the originality of his style. The Evangelists Matthew and Luke are distinguished by very nimble yet forceful linework. The contrast between bright, untreated surfaces and dense patches of black creates dramatic light effects. Sallaert’s method of drawing is extremely synthetic, involving maximum economy in the means of expression. A few lines and dark blobs of colour are sufficient to led suggestive and memorable character to the details of faces, bodies and garments. The whole has an unconventional look, unusually modern, almost provocative, as Sallaert’s formal language sometimes borders on caricature, as is shown by the magnificently dull-eyed bull at Saint Luke’s feet. The artist’s choice of a rare, tinted paper is further proof of the experimental character of his woodcuts.

Superb, vivid impressions with small margins. In excellent condition.

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