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Hendrick Goltzius

(1558 Mühlbracht – 1617 Haarlem)

Young Man with Fluttering Drapery. Woodcut on blue paper, with white heightening. 10.8 x 6.4 cm. Circa 1598. Bartsch 240; Hollstein 376 I (of II); Strauss, Goltzius, 408; Bialler, Chiaroscuro Woodcuts, 53 I b (of II).

This precious and rare sheet owes its charm to its carefree elegance and sweeping calligraphic linework. It belongs to a small group of drawings and prints produced after the artist’s travel to Italy (1590–91); its refined Classicism recalls stylistic elements of the art of Parmigianino. In this very case the chiaroscuro woodcuts of Antonio da Trento after inventions by Parmigianino may have served as a source of inspiration.

The print radiates a lightness and spirituality which is unusual for Dutch art of the time. Goltzius creates a great intensity of atmosphere and illusion of space within a very small format. The body of the young man, whose bearing has the grace and lightness of a dancer, the gossamer-thin drapery and the cape are rendered with dense, occasionally curved, parallel hatching, which effectively alternates with areas that are left blank. The vegetation, terrain and classical architecture in the background are more vigorously drawn and less filigreed, which directs the attention of the beholder to the youthful protagonist, whose casual, self-confident pose is reminiscent of a Greek god.

A very fine impression of the first state. As is the case in other early impressions, details of the image have been heightened by hand with lead white. Before the impressions with the tone block. From the collections of F. Rechberger (Lugt 2133) and E. Fabricius (Lugt 847a and 919bis).

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