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Jacob Matham

(1571–1631, Haarlem)

and MONOGRAMMIST M. Ö. (active in Germany in the late 16th century).

The Prodigal Son Squanders His Money. Engraving with rich, gold-heightened colouration after Karel van Mander. 23.8 x 17.6 cm. (1592). B. 173; Hollstein 65.

The present lavishly coloured sheet is the second in Matham’s series entitled The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Hollstein 64–67) engraved after an invention by Karel van Mander. It can be assumed that the refined, elaborate colouring was again the work of the monogrammist M.Ö., although the sheet does not bear his monogram. In contrast to the two sheets under the previous catalogue number, the colour palette has a sonorous note, although it is a little more restrained and there is less emphasis on stark colour contrasts. The whole seems more reserved, the visual appearance being dominated by vibrant green and purple tones. Here, too, the great refinement and aesthetic  efficiency of the abundant delicate gold heightening immediately strike the eye. 

The details of the rich costumes and precious gold tableware are brought out with meticulous and loving care. Only at second glance do the subtle, genre-like details attract the viewer’s attention. A maid is chalking up on a board the number of carafes of wine that have been consumed, for instance, and a black and white stork can be spotted on the signboard of the inn. The lively scene radiates an utter lack of restraint and a dissolute joie de vivre. On what is probably a contemporary collector’s mount. The print is in pristine condition, the colours fresh and luminous.

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