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Frans Menton

(ca. 1550 – ca. 1615, Alkmaar)

The Four Elements, after Frans Floris. Four engravings, printed on two sheets. Each approx. 15.7 x 23 cm. The New Hollstein (Floris) 111–114.

Very little is known about the painter and engraver, Frans Menton. According to Carel van Mander, who knew the artist personally, he was apprenticed as a young man to Frans Floris in Antwerp. From 1580 Menton lived and worked in his native city of Alkmaar in the northern Netherlands, where he apparently earned himself a reputation as a portrait painter. None of his portraits have survived, however.

The present rare suite after originals by Frans Floris was published by Hieronymus Cock and bears his address and the date 1568. This is one of Menton’s early works made while he was an apprentice in Ant­werp. The sheets have been executed in an engraving technique which is crude and has a tendency to simplify but which nonetheless convincingly reproduces the elemental power and expressiveness of Floris’ originals. Floris himself was obviously inspired by the original works of other artists. Van de Velde has pointed out that the rendering of the water bears distinct compositional similarities to Leon Davent’s etching of roughly the same size after a drawing by Primaticcio (A Nymph Observes an Escaping Heron, Zerner L. D. 37).

Superb, contrasting impressions with broad margins. Minor staining and ageing, otherwise in very good condition.

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