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Jacques de Gheyn the Younger

(1565 Antwerp – 1629 The Hague)

The Large Lion. Engraving. 26.5 x 34.3 cm. Circa 1590. Hollstein 298, Filedt Kok (The New Hollstein) 170 II.

Jacques de Gheyn’s Large Lion, as it is called, is remarkable for its detailed and lifelike rendering of the proud beast. The realistic depiction does not detract from the symbolic and propagandistic content of this impressive and visually memorable print, however, which dates to a crucial moment in the war between the young Dutch Republic and Spain. The lion stood for the courage and fortitude of the United Netherlands. The Latin inscription by Heyman Jacobi also praises the lion’s noble qualities: its vigilance and fearlessness. Jacobus (or Jacques) de Gheyn the Younger was apprenticed to Hendrick Goltzius in Haarlem. He set up his own studio in 1587 and enjoyed a successful career as a painter, draughtsman and engraver in Amsterdam, Leiden and, finally, The Hague. De Gheyn maintained close relations with leading representatives of the ruling Dutch upper class and was patronised by Prince Maurits of Orange. The political and symbolic nature of this striking depiction of the lion is, therefore, readily apparent. A very fine, crisp and nuanced impression with the framing line still visible in places. On an old album mount.

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