Hendrick  Goltzius

Goltzius, 1585, engraving, Holy Family

The Holy Family before a Column

Bartsch 274; Hollstein (Dutch) 318.1; Strauss 219.1

burin engraving, 1585, a very fine impression of the rare first state of this engraving, printed cleanly, on medium-weight laid paper (with the "Crest of Basel on Escutcheon" watermark characteristic of first-state impressions, as cited by Strauss), trimmed slightly inside of the platemark (1 or 2 mm. *),  some localized soiling, traces of a horizontal fold (mainly in evidence on the reverse), mounted on a modern backing sheet with conservation tape, otherwise in very good condition

Provenance: a private European collection

S. 170 x 125 mm.

This fine engraving is one of the earliest of Hendrick Goltzius's typically Mannerist subjects inspired by Bartholomeus Spranger, the internationally renowned Flemish painter.  Court painter to Rudolf II in Prague at the time, Spranger had in fact been trained in Italy, settling in Rome in 1567, where he was first appointed painter to the Vatican by Pope Pius V in 1570. 

The Holy Family before a Column, dated 1585, leads into what are often called the "Spranger years" of Goltzius's rich artistic production; this period, between 1586 and 1590, is what Huigen Leeflang considers to be "arguably the most fascinating in the artist's career." **

We have seen only one impression of this remarkable print on auction in recent years: Sotheby's, Lot 25, Sale L10160, Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Prints, London,  March 30, 2010.

*  According to both Hollstein and Strauss, the plate measures 175 x126 mm.

For a full discussion of Spranger's influence on Goltzius, see Huigen Leeflang et al.,  Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617): drawings, prints and paintings, Waanders 2003)