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Flemish School

circa 1570

Pietà. Engraving. 27.5 x 19 cm. Le Blanc (Hieronymus Cock) 11, Riggs 251. Watermark: Stag.

Researchers have yet to ascertain who produced this superbly executed engraving of the Mater Dolorosa. The address makes it clear that it was issued by Hieronymus Cock’s publishing house Aux quatre Vents, founded in 1548, but there are no clear indications as to who the engraver might be. The engraving is thus deemed to be the work of an anonymous Dutch master and produced around 1570. Since Hieronymus Cock died in 1570, his widow, Volcxken Diercx, who ran her husband’s publishing house until her own death in 1600, is now listed as the publisher. The verse in the lower text margin is the eight-line poem Salue Regina by the great humanist, Erasmus von Rotterdam. The compositional arrangement of the engraving is very similar to traditional depictions of the Pietà. Mary with the body of Christ at the centre is flanked by angels holding the instruments of the Passion. The type of figure used is highly reminiscent of the works of the print designer, Crispijn van den Broeck (circa 1522/23 – after 1588). He, too, was active in Antwerp in the second half of the 16th century and provided designs for various publishers, including Hieronymus Cock. It therefore seems plausible that van den Broeck is responsible for this engraving. The anonymous engraver also appears to be a highly skilled artist. His even system of narrow parallel and cross hatching enables him to produce a highly realistic print; the disciplined method he employs is typical of Antwerp Mannerism. The print is rare. A very fine, strong and even impression with thread margins. In excellent condition.

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