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Engraving, signed on the plate lower right ’Bruegel inv’
Van Bastelaer, 1908 n. 123; Hollstein 1949 vol 4, n. 234, 123; Leber 39; New Hollstein (Galle) 147; Sellink-Orenstein, 2001, p. 208, n. 86
mm 223 x 291; sheet mm 247 x 305
A fine tonal and even impression, printed, on paper with ‘Gotic P’ watermark, in very good condition, with large margin. Signed on the plate ‘Bruegel inv’, with the ‘Cock’s excudit’ lover left.
Inscribed on a scale at upper right: ‘Non noui vos’ (I know you not) Matthew 25-6; on the banderole at center ‘Ecce sponsus venit exit obviam ei’ (Behold, the bridegroom cometh. Go ye out to meet him) Matt. 25-6, in lower margin ‘Date nobis de oleo vestro, quia lampades nostrae extingun/tur./nequaquam, nequando non sufficiat nobis et vobis’ Matt. 25:8-9.
(And the foolish said unto the wise,/ Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out./But the wise answered, saying,/Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you).
Brueghel chose traditional imagery for his depiction of the ‘Parable of the Prudent and Foolish Virgins’ illustrating a verse of Gospel according to St. Matthew.
While in the left half of the composition the virgins are seen earnestly busy with domestic work, the foolish sisters waste their precious time in frivolous dancing.