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Pieter Jalhea Furnius

(called Dufour, ca. 1545–1626, Liège)

Illustrations for the Epistle to the Hebrews, 11. Six engravings, each measuring approx. 29.6 x 19.7 cm. Undescribed.

Little research has been carried out into the printed œuvre of Pieter Furnius so far. The present series of engravings is among those not described in the critical literature. Hollstein, for example, does not record the suite in his summary list. Furnius was a pupil of Lambert Lombard in Liège. In the years 1563–1571 he worked in Antwerp as a reproductive engraver for such well-known publishers as Christopher Plantin and Hieronymus Cock and also produced a number of prints after his own inventions. His somewhat ponderous, at times crude engraving technique is characteristic of what is known as the so-called Antwerp style, whose main representatives included such artists as Cornelis van den Broeck, Cornelis Cort, and Philips Galle. From the erudite, humanistic choice of theme we can infer the educational, elevating purpose of this kind of engravings.

Furnius probably worked after his own designs for this series. The individual scenes illustrate passages from chapter 11 of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The iconography shows biblical personalities who figure as typical examples of faith through their moral conduct. Abel kneels down while a heavenly fire consumes his sacrifice, a sign of its gracious acceptance by God; Enoch is borne away from the earth because his life was so pleasing in the sight of God; Noah has honoured God with his faith and built the Ark; Abraham is shown receiving from God the order to sacrifice his son Isaac; Moses appears with the tablets of the law, while Pharaoh’s Egyptian host disappears beneath the waves; finally there is Rahab, the harlot who saved the Israelite spies and was the only one spared after the fall of Jericho.

Very fine impressions, printed with tone and with full margins. Minor aging, old numbering in ink, otherwise in excellent, untreated condition.

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