By Pieter Brueghel the Elder
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Reference: Lebeer 22; Orenstein 45; New Hollstein (Bruegel) 25. Only state.
Edition size: unknown
Image size: 22,4 x 29,5 cm
Sheet size: 25,5 x 33 cm
Price: 11000 (incl. taxes)
Engraving, 224 x 295 mm. Engraved by Pieter van der Heyden (c. 1530 - c. 1572) after the preparatory drawing by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Published by Hieronymus Cock. Lebeer 22; Orenstein 45; New Hollstein (Bruegel) 25. Only state.
Fine impression with good contrasts, some ruling lines yet visible, printed on laid watermarked paper (gothic P). A small repaired tear within the subject and a printer's crease in the middle of the upper edge of the image, otherwise in very good condition. Good margins all around the platemark (sheet: 255 x 330 mm).
This plate belongs to the Seven Deadly Sins series (1556-1558), and is based on the preparatory drawing in ink by Pieter Bruegel, dated 1557, kept today in the Frits Lugt collection (Fondation Custodia, inv. 466).
In the bottom margin, two mottoes: EBRIETAS EST VITANDA, INGLVVIESQUE CIBORUM: “One must avoid drunkenness and gluttony”. And: Schout dronckenschap / en gulsichlijck eten Want ouerdaet doet godt en hem seluen vergheten: “Refrain from drunkenness and gluttony, for excess makes one forget God and forget oneself”.
The list of seven deadly sins (the main sins from which all others are derived) has been established since the Middle Ages: Superbia, Avaritia, Desidia, Gula, Luxuria, Invidia and Ira. Bruegel follows this canonical list in his series of preparatory drawings for the seven plates etched by Pieter van der Heyden and published by Hieronymus Cock. Each sin is represented by a woman giving herself over to her passion, and accompanied by an animal traditionally associated with the sin she embodies (a pig in the case of Gula). The etchings are saturated with grotesque or terrifying scenes, in which Bruegel gives his imagination free rein. The Seven Deadly Sins series “undeniably bears the mark of the pictorial language practiced half a century earlier by Hieronymus Bosch” (M. Sellink, p. 92, our translation), but it is also, “along with the Seven Virtues, the pinnacle of Bruegel's graphic works.” (J. van Grieken, G. Luijten, J. van der Stock (dir.), p. 216, our translation).
Reference: Manfred Sellink, Bruegel : L’œuvre complet : Peintures, dessins, gravures, 2007, pp. 92-107; J. van Grieken, G. Luijten, J. van der Stock (dir.), Hieronymus Cock : La gravure à la Renaissance, Bruxelles, 2013, pp. 216-225.