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Christ and the Twelve Apostles. Series of thirteen engravings after Lambert Lombard. Each approx. 19.8 x 11.8 cm. Nagler, Die Monogrammisten IV, 1173.
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Only summary mention is made in the descriptive literature of the extremely rare apostle series after originals by the Liège master, Lambert Lombard. Nagler was the first to draw attention to it in his encyclopaedic work The Monogrammists, correctly identifying the monogram LL INV on the depiction of St. Matthew as that of Lambert Lombard. Our cycle is mentioned in the inventory of the estate of Volcxken Diericx, the widow of the Antwerp publisher, Hieronymus Cock, which was compiled in 1601 to divide up the inheritance. The extensive register, which contains some 1,600 copper plates, provides a very interesting picture of the practices of this highly efficient and extremely successful Antwerp publisher and his no less industrious wife and puts his business activities in a new light. Quite clearly Hieronymus Cock and, after his death in 1570, his widow Volcxken Diericx sold not only engravings from their own publishing house, but also impressions from printing plates they had acquired from other engravers or publishers. Cock, for instance, held onto the copper plates of an apostle series by Lambert Suavius after the latter had moved to Frankfurt and sold impressions from them to his Antwerp colleague, Christoffel Plantin. As part of a major transaction in 1583, the value of which exceeded 1,000 guilders, Diericx in turn sold impressions of the present series to the publisher, Bartholomeus de Mompere (see J. van Grieken, “Facetten van de uitbouw en de exploitatie van een uitgeversfonds” in: Exhibition catalogue Hieronymus Cock. De Renaissance in prent. Brussels-Leuven-Paris 2013, pp. 22–25).
The prints in our series show a considerable stylistic similarity with a series of ten Antique Female Statues which were also sold by Cock (see Exhibition catalogue Hieronymus Cock, No. 15a, pp. 108–109). They reveal a comparably robust, somewhat crude and static engraving style which is nonetheless very expressive and appears quite monumental despite the small size of the prints. There is also a striking similarity in the schematic treatment of the backgrounds with narrow parallel hatchings. In all likelihood the depictions are based on preliminary drawings by Lambert Lombard himself and it can be assumed that the anonymous engraver was one of his pupils. According to Lampsonius, Lombard ran a private academy in his own house, where aspiring artists learned to draw and engrave after his own works and those of other artists.
Superb, strong early impressions, before the engraved inscriptions with the names of the apostles. A further complete set is in Brussels (Koninklijke Bibliotheek van Belgie, Prentenkabinet). The individual impressions already have the respective inscription, however. Minor ageing, otherwise in pristine condition.