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Paulus Moreelse

(1571–1638, Utrecht)

The Reflecting Amor. Etching and burin. 16.3 x 12 cm. Hollstein 3.

Paulus Moreelse, a painter of portraits and historical scenes from Utrecht, left a very small printed oeuvre comprising just four prints, including two chiaroscuro woodcuts treated in a Mannerist idiom. Hendrick Goltzius had brought about a renaissance of the technique in Haarlem in the 1580s and 1590s, and Abraham Bloemaert, who likewise came from Utrecht, also took a keen interest in this medium. The present etching of Amor lost in thought is of exquisite rarity and is missing from virtually all the prominent museum collections. According to the inscription, the work goes back to a painting by Titian.

Moreelse trained for two years in Delft under Michiel van Mierevelt and subsequently went on a lengthy trip to Italy, where he probably saw Titian’s painting and used it as the inspiration for his work. The etching has been executed in a light and spontaneous style which convincingly renders the painterly values and the soft, velvety sfumato of the Venetian original. The playful god of love is leaning casually against a tree trunk and look­ing dreamily into the distance; his bow and arrows lie unused on the ground. Given that the surrounding landscape is only sketched in, the viewer’s gaze concentrates on the small, melancholy god of love. Moreelse has contrived maximum colour and atmosphere with great economy of means. The small format of the etching underlines the intimate character of the depiction. A superb, contrasting and tonal impression with thread margins. We were only able to find two other impressions in the Rijks­prentenkabinet in Amsterdam and in the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. The minor damage to the plate at the top and on the right is identical with that on the present impression.

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