loading page

Loading the page ...

Jacob Matham

(1571–1631, Haarlem)

The Adoration of the Shepherds. Engraving after Karel van Mander. 26.1 x 37.9 cm. 1588. Hollstein (Matham) 36, The New Hollstein (Mander) 45 II, The New Hollstein (Matham) 297 II. Watermark: Crowned coat of arms with lilies.

This print is remarkable for its rich iconography and multi-figured, animated composition, but above all for the delicate, nuanced engraving technique employed by the artist. It represents a homage, as it were, to the painter and art writer, Karel van Mander, who was an outstanding and influential figure in the Haarlem artistic community at the time the engraving was made. Particularly impressive are the figures of the prophets in the foreground who hold up tablets with quotations from their respective writings. The prophet Isaiah, in particular, – an imposing, dignified old man with a long, flowing beard, whose striking features are partly obscured by a hood – perfectly embodies van Mander’s classical approach to figure drawing. Readily apparent, too, is the stylistic inspiration that flowed from Italian High Renaissance art, especially the canon of forms and designs adhered to by Raphael and Michelangelo. Between 1573 and 1577 van Mander was in Italy, where he met Giorgio Vasari in Florence and made copies after antiquity and works by the great Renaissance painters in Rome. The present impressive sheet with its detailed and technically very advanced engraving style transposes the intellectual world of Rome, as it were, to northern Haarlem. The engraving does not bear the name of the engraver, which is surprising in view of its considerable artistic merit. Hollstein assigns the print to Jacob Matham, the pupil and stepson of Hendrik Goltzius, while the engraving is listed as an attributed print in both editions of the New Hollstein. An unfinished trial proof is in the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam. The impression pulled from the second state that is on offer here is quite rare. Widerkehr (The New Hollstein) lists impressions in Amsterdam, Coburg, London, Nuremberg and Wolfegg. A very fine, even impression with thread margins around the framing line. Occasional traces of smoothed folds on the verso that are not visible on the recto, minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

Contact us for further information