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Hercules Segers, Landscape, an etching


Height: 286.000 mm
Width: 468.000 mm

PD Sheepshanks 5534 (Haverkamp Begeman 4 (Ib))

Prints and Drawings

    Hercules Segers, Landscape, an etching

    The Netherlands, around AD 1620 (state I)

    A mountain landscape

    This etching is one of four large landscapes by Segers (1589/90 - about 1638) that stand apart from his other prints for their size, style and technique. The composition repeats the design of his painting in the Mauritshuis, The Hague. Unlike some of his etchings, these landscapes are imaginary vistas compiled from his memory of earlier artists' prints, combined with his own flair for novel graphic design, marks and colour. Its somewhat rough-hewn appearance retains the qualities of an oil-sketch.

    The print depicts a deep valley, with rocky peaks rising above the clouds, at the top-left of the sheet. The vista opens out and curves around in a wide arc towards the distant right. In the 1550s, Bruegel had drawn such distant valleys from a high viewpoint, but Segers has taken us down to the valley floor. The four trees on the foreground promontory, set against distant cliffs, are reminiscent of Altdorfer's Danube etchings. Further motifs from earlier landscape prints may be recognized, but none approaches those of Segers in the large size of his plate, the gravely textures he has invented for his rocks, or his experimental use of coloured inks and paper.

    A second state of the plate, heavily reworked in drypoint, exists only in a unique impression, which is characteristic of Segers experimental approach to printmaking. The verso of this sheet is printed with another of his landscapes.

    J. Rowlands, Hercules Segers (New York, George Braziller, 1979)

    G. Luijten and others, Dawn of the golden age: northe (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1993)


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