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The Christian Soldier. Etching. 29.7 x 35.8 cm. 1614. Hollstein 10.
In his early years the Antwerp-born engraver, etcher and draughtsman, Pieter Serwouters, worked mainly after designs by David Vinckboons und Adriaen van de Venne. He also produced a small number of very finely executed portrait engravings after his own inventions as well as numerous title pages. Serwouters was active in Amsterdam from about 1622. The present very rare depiction of the miles christianus stems from his early period in Antwerp; the composition with its highly original iconography is based on a design by David Vinckboons.
The valiant defender of the Christian faith occupies a prominent position on a finely faceted block of stone; above him hovers a little angel about to hand him a laurel wreath. The soldier is surrounded by personifications of worldly temptations; on the extreme right an amusingly bizarre-looking devil aims arrows at him. The scene has been rendered in a very detailed and refined etching technique. Serwouters obviously derives great pleasure from conveying the different textures, the details of the clothing and the numerous meaningful attributes. A detailed assessment of the substantial iconography is to be found in: B. Knipping, De Iconographie van de Contra-Reformatie in de Nederlanden, Hilversum 1940 I, p. 124, II, p. 180; U. Krempel, “Die Krönung des Tugendhelden”, Peter Paul Rubens, Werk und Nachruhm, Augsburg 1981, p. 93. A superb, harmonious impression with wide margins. Slight traces of handling in the margins, otherwise in perfect condition.