The Blind leading the Blind
By Pieter Brueghel the Elder
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Reference: Lebeer undescribed, Hollstein undescribed.
Edition size: unknown
Image size: 18 x 23 cm
Sheet size: 25 x 32,5 cm
Price: 3000 (incl. taxes)
Etching, 180 x 230 mm. Lebeer undescribed, Hollstein undescribed.
Anonymous etching published by Claes Jansz. II Visscher.
Fine impression printed on watermarked laid paper (Coat of Arms of Amsterdam). Bottom left corner made-up and small repairs in the margins; a vertical repaired tear just touching the platemark in the bottom margin. Good margins (sheet: 250 x 325 mm).
The etching published by Claes Jansz. II Visscher is seemingly inspired by De parabel der blinden [The parable of the blind], painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1568. This hypothesis has been put forward by the Rijksmuseum, which keeps two impressions of this etching. It is etched in reverse compared to the painting, and uses the same composition: blind men, dressed like vagrants, follow a diagonal line across the picture, leading to a river in which they will soon fall; they narrowly missed a small plank bridge upstream, next to a tree. As in the painting, there is a village in the background. However, there are only three blind men instead of six in Bruegel's picture, and the one at the front, wearing the same hurdy gurdy as in the painting over his shoulder, hasn't fallen into the water yet. Still, his face expresses fear as he loses his footing...
The Rijksmuseum suggests a date of 1643 in the notice to one of their two impressions.