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Willem van Swanenburgh

(1581/82–1612, Leiden)

Attributed. Neptune on Two Dolphins. Engraving after Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem. 34.2 x 21.4 cm. Circa 1605. Hollstein (after Cornelisz.) 14, Widerkehr (New Hollstein, Jacob Matham) R21 I (of II).

The present engraving of the god Neptune was assigned by Hollstein to Jacob Matham, although it has latterly been attributed to the printed oeuvre of Willem van Swanenburgh. Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem is recorded on the print as the author of this elegant composition. A painting assigned to Cornelisz. depicting the scene with Neptune from the opposite side was auctioned by Phillips in London in 1999 and evidently served as the design for the engraving (“Neptune on the Dolphin”, 1599, oil, 49 x 31.5 cm, Old Master Paintings, 14 December 1999, lot 6). Willem van Swanenburgh, a native of Leiden, was taught by his father Isaac and was active mostly as an engraver of portraits and reproductions. He worked to designs by such artists as Peter Paul Rubens, Abraham Bloemaert, Jan Saenredam, Jacques de Gheyn and Jacob Matham. This impressive print showing the sea god Neptune riding on two dolphins is distinguished by its highly sophisticated technical execution. It is on offer here in an early impression before the address of Claes Jansz. Visscher. In this state of preservation and early state the engraving is very rare – Widerkehr mentions just three impressions in Leiden, Paris and Vienna. A very fine, detailed and harmonious impression with fine, even margins around the platemark. A portrait sketch of Emperor Rudolf II verso. Unobtrusive, smoothed central fold, slight condition problems and traces of handling, otherwise in excellent condition.

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