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Magdalena de Passe

(1600 Cologne – before 1640 Utrecht)

Four landscapes with scenes from the story of Elijah. 4 engravings after Roelant Saverij and Adam Willaerts. Each ca. 20.4 x 26.2 cm. Franken 1274–1277, Hollstein 18–21. Watermark: Large crowned coat of arms.

Together with Geertruyt Roghman and Anna Maria de Koker, Magdalena de Passe was one of the few female graphic artists working in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Born in 1600 in Cologne, she was trained with her three brothers in the workshop of her father, Crispijn the Elder (ca. 1565–1637). In 1612 the family moved to Utrecht; as a Mennonite, Crispijn was considered a heretic in Cologne. A year later he had already obtained citizenship in Utrecht as a printmaker. The family business evidently became very productive; more than thirteen hundred single sheets and forty-nine illustrated works emerged from its workshop. Magdalena was entirely integrated in this world. Compared to those of her brothers Crispijn the Younger, Simon, and Willem, however, Magdalena’s printed oeuvre is small and consists of a few portrait prints and religious images as well as landscapes after Adam Elsheimer, Jacob Pynas, Paulus Bril, and others.

The present group of scenes from the story of Elijah is rarely found in a complete set. The images are executed in the detailed and refined manner characteristic of the de Passe-workshop. The landscapes show a great diversity of natural subjects and vegetation, as well as changes in weather and atmosphere, most notably in the last sheet of the series in which the artist depicts a dramatically clouded sky and suggests the force of the oncoming waves. The biblical element plays a subordinate role here. The prophet Elijah is no more than a mere staffage figure in the wide landscape. On the sheet showing the whalers, the genrelike rendering of the action  displaces the religious content entirely. The prophet stands on a little hill in the right foreground and watches the busy activities of the fishermen. Very fine, contrasting, and sharp impressions with wide, even margins around the platemark. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.

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