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Quirin Boel

(1620 Antwerp – 1668 Brussels)

The Monkeys’ Barber’s Shop. Etching after David Teniers. 24.4 x 31.6 cm. Hollstein 42. Watermark: Foolscap.

The etcher and engraver, Quirin (or Coryn) Boel, was the son of the Antwerp-born engraver and print publisher, Jan Boel (1592–1640). Quirin was probably apprenticed to David Teniers the Younger in Antwerp and active in Brussels around 1648. He made a sizeable number of reproductive engravings after Palma Vecchio, Giorgione, Titian, Correggio, Michelangelo and other Cinquecento masters for David Teniers’ Theatrum Pictorum, published in Brussels in 1660. Boel achieved greater popularity, however, with his etchings after genre pictures by David Teniers the Younger, which he executed in a fluid, animated style.

The present rare etching is an individual print and a further variation on the theme of the world turned upside down. Several monkeys dressed in smocks are looking after a barber’s shop, in which unpleasant medical interventions are being carried out in keeping with the customs of the time. The monkeys stand metaphorically for vices such as devilishness, sin, lasciviousness and foolishness. Two cats which have fallen victim to their charlatanism look appropriately frightened. A chained owl, the symbol of wisdom, observes the turmoil critically from a distance. The whole has been executed in a light, transparent and graphically sophisticated etching technique, the outstanding features of which are the abundance of detail and the delicate tonal nuances. A superb, inky and crisp impression with wide margins. In mint condition.

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