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Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas. Engraving. 19.7 x 16.7 cm. Hollstein 5. Watermark: Lion (similar to Briquet 10585, Marburg, 1592).
The draughtsman and engraver, Simon de Passe, was the eldest son of Crispijn de Passe the Elder, to whom the artist was apprenticed in Cologne. Simon was active in England from about 1615 to 1622, where he was in close contact with the Jacobin court. Living subsequently in Holland, he was baptised in Utrecht in accordance with the Mennonite rite in 1624. From 1629 he worked for King Christian IV of Denmark in Copenhagen, where he died in 1647.
This extraordinarily rare and delightful Vanitas scene is based on a design by his father Crispijn de Passe. Set against the background of a pleasure garden, the putto blowing soap bubbles is surrounded by insignia of worldly life, which lie scattered randomly on the ground. His left foot rests on two tomes, one by Epicurus and the other by the polymath and esoteric philosopher, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486 Cologne – 1535 Grenoble). Simon’s concentrated and refined engraving technique is fully in line with the tradition of the de Passe studio. A superb, contrasting and even impression with margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in pristine, immaculate condition.
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