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Ecce Homo. Etching and engraving. 13.8 x 16.2 cm. Wurzbach 1, Nagler, Die Monogrammisten II, 1436, 2; Hollstein 3. Watermark: Fleur-de-lis on crowned shield.
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The painter and etcher, Dirk van Hoogstraten, was born around 1596 in Antwerp. When still a young man, however, he moved with his parents to The Hague, where he was trained as a goldsmith, given drawing lessons and taught how to engrave. He is known to have subsequently undertaken study trips to Germany and Italy. In the 1620s van Hoogstraten set himself up as an independent artist in Dordrecht, where he is mentioned in November 1624 as being a member of the local painters’ guild. At the end of the decade van Hoogstraten returned to The Hague, where he lived and worked until shortly before his death. He was the father of the Rembrandt pupil, poet and art theorist, Samuel van Hoogstraten.
Dirk van Hoogstraten’s printed oeuvre is of great rarity, comprising just fourteen prints mostly on religious topics. His Christ Shown to the People shows five half-length figures. On the left Pontius Pilate, wearing a turban and oriental dress, points to Jesus with his crown of thorns who is holding a broken staff in his tied hands. Pilate is accompanied by three henchmen in exotic garb. The etching has been executed using an intricate technique that accurately reproduces the details of the clothing and sets great store by the characterisation of the physiognomies. Hoogstraten’s refined technical treatment is in a way retrospective and reminds of the printed work of his great predecessor, Lucas van Leyden.
Only two impressions of the present etching are known to exist. One is in the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam and the other without the lower text margin was auctioned by C. G. Boerner in Leipzig in 1930 (see Auction Catalogue CLXV, Kupferstiche des XV. bis XVIII. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 6–9 May 1930, No. 722). Our print is a variation not recorded by Hollstein with the inscription “Ecce Homo” instead of the two-line Latin inscription. A very fine, harmonious and nuanced impression with thread margins. The auxiliary lines for the inscription are still clearly visible. Minor staining, minor abrasions in the margins, an unobtrusive retouching in pen and ink, otherwise in excellent condition. With an unidentified collector’s mark.