- Museum number
The Holy Women at the Sepulchre, with the angel sitting on the open grave; the three women are also represented in the background. 1613/6
Etching with stipple
- Production date
Height: 447 millimetres
Width: 297 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Text by Craig Hartley from 'Jacques Bellange, Printmaker of Lorraine', BM 1997, cat.14)
The subject derives from the passage in Mark's Gospel (16:1-8). Bellange does not show the women holding ointment jars, but his print follows quite closely the spirit if not the letter of Mark's description: 'And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us way the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed...' Bellange shows the three women twice: once in the distance at the entrance to sepulchre; and then in the foreground, presumably inside the cave, confronted by the 'young man' who is represented instead as 'the angel of the Lord' (Matthew 28:2) sitting on the edge of the empty tomb. Bellange had already treated this subject in a composition engraved by Crispin De Passe in 1600-01 (Hollstein 153). There the three women, holding ointment jars, are close by the tomb out of which pops the head, hand and wing of a much younger angel. The print lacks completely the drama of this print.
Worthen follows Walch in citing three engravings by or after Goltzius as the sources from which Bellange derived his composition, although these are far from precise models: the angel is similar to that in The angel announcing the birth of Samson (Bartsch 3); only the right-hand woman appears close to any of the three women in the Finding of Erichthonius from the set of Ovid's Metamorphoses (Bartsch 62); and only the arched entrance to the tomb is directly comparable with the Resurrection (Bartsch 38). Perhaps more important, the organisation of the composition in terms of large dramatically-lit figures shows the influence of Northern mannerist prints, such as Aegidius Sadeler's The Three Holy women visiting the tomb engraved after Bartholomaus Spranger (Hollstein 60), or Jacob Matham's Diana's Nymphs discovering Calisto's pregnancy after Cornelisz (Bartsch 94).
This style and method of etching of this print seems relatively late. As Worthen points out, Bellange appears here less interested in stippling and hatching for the sake of differentiating flesh from drapery: the neck of the right-hand figure melts seamlessly into the luminous form of her sleeve. Detailed description is sacrificed to effects of light and chiaroscuro.
- Not on display
- Acquisition notes
- no evidence for provenance visible on the verso. See comment on R,8.1.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number