Description & Technical information

The present sheet is closely related to a series of around thirty drawings of prophets and other Biblical figures by Stradanus, all oval in format and of similar dimensions and technique, some of which were engraved by Cornelis Galle. The prints after Stradanus's drawings appeared in two different printed publications. In 1613, several years after the death of Stradanus, nineteen of the drawings, as well as a title page, were published as Icones Prophetarum Veteris Testamenti by Theodoor Galle in Antwerp. A further seven prints were added to the series when it was republished, sometime after 1636, by Theodoor's son Johannes Galle, with the title Icones Prophetarum Veteris Testamenti à Ioanne Stradano delineatae, à Ioanne Gallaeo excusae, à Corn. Gallaeo sculptae. Antverpiae.

Like a handful of examples from this distinctive group of drawings, however, the present sheet does not seem to have been engraved for either of the known editions of the Icones Prophetarum Veteris Testamenti, and may have been intended for another series of prints of saints or figures from the New Testament that was never published. As Sarah Van Ooteghem has noted of this series of drawings, 'The diverse media used in these drawings heightens the liveliness of the figures. Pen and brown ink accentuates the contours…probably for the benefit of the printmaker.'

Other drawings by Stradanus from this group are today in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the Courtauld Institute Gallery in London, the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Fondation Custodia (Frits Lugt Collection) in Paris and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC., as well as in several private collections. A handful of these drawings, including the present sheet, bears dates in the 1590s, and the group as a whole may be dated to the last ten or fifteen years of the artist's life.

Date:  1595
Period:  1400-1600, 16th Century
Origin:  Belgium, Italy
Medium: Pen, Brown ink, Brown wash, Black chalk, Old backing sheet
Signature: Signed, dated and inscribed ioan stradanus Achademio - / di fiorenza 1595 at the bottom of the image. Inscribed L.h. Stradan. [completed with us, in a different shade of ink] in brown ink at the lower right of the sheet. Further inscribed Johannes Evangelista at the upper right of the backing sheet, and numbered 82 [crossed out] and 5 at the upper left and lower right corners of the backing sheet. Inscribed num. 11 on the reverse of the backing sheet.

Dimensions: 18.2 x 13.3 cm (7¹/₈ x 5¹/₄ inches)
Provenance: Victor Sordan, New York
His sale, New York, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 22 October 1970, lot 34 (sold for $275)
Yvonne Tan Bunzl, London, in 1971.
Literature: Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Foreign Catalogue, 1977, Vol.I, p.277, note 7, under no.6312; Karel G. Boon, The Netherlandish and German Drawings of the XVth and XVIth Centuries of the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris, 1992, Vol.I, pp.355-356, under no.201, note 19; Alessandra Baroni Vannucci, Jan Van Der Straet detto Giovanni Stradano: flandrus pictor et inventor, Milan, 1997, pp.330-331, no.662 (as location unknown); Stefaan Hautekeete, ed., From Floris to Rubens: Master Drawings from a Belgian Private Collection, exhibition catalogue, Brussels and Maastricht, 2016, p.112, under nos.38-39.
Exhibitions: London, Yvonne Tan Bunzl at Faerber and Maison Ltd., Old Master Drawings and Paintings, 1971, no.49.
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints