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Hieronymus Wierix

(1553–1619, Antwerp)

Madonna with Child on Crescent Moon. Engraving. 35.2 x 28.5 cm. Mauquoy-Hendrickx 721 II (of IV), The New Hollstein 996 II (of IV). Watermark: Letter S in curved shield.

This mystical portrayal of the Mother of God on the crescent moon, whose iconography originates from the Book of Revelation and has possessed a Mariological significance since the Middle Ages, is a masterpiece of refined printmaking. Like his elder brother Johannes, Hieronymus Wierix worked mainly as a reproductive engraver, although he also produced a number of engravings after his own inventions. His technically sophisticated and meticulous engraving technique is in the tradition of such great predecessors as Albrecht Dürer and Lucas van Leyden and Wierix is doubtless the equal of these masters in terms of virtuoso craftsmanship.

The Madonna on the Crescent Moon demonstrates very effectively all the advantages of the engraving medium. The wonderfully varied technique, which lends the portrayal a metallic gleam, the fine linework and the masterly rendering of the various, almost palpable textures cannot fail to amaze the beholder. By deliberately contrasting dense hatching patterns and untreated areas, where only the white tone of the paper is used to create the desired effect, the artist generates an almost ethereal light. Subtle details, like the contrast between the steely sharpness of the crescent moon and the soft, luxurious cushion on which the Madonna is enthroned, testify to Hieronymus Wierix’s artistic refinement.

A crisp, early impression of unsurpassable beauty, before the twelve stars around Mary’s head, printed on the full sheet. In pristine condition.

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