Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, in black and two shades of ochre
Bartsch 238; Hollstein 374; Strauss 418; New Hollstein 294, Bialler 1993, no. 26
Sheet 348 x 260 mm
Provenance: British Rail Pension Funds; their sale, Sotheby's, London, 29 June 1987, lot 43; Giancarlo Beltrame (1925-2011),Vicenza.
A very fine Bialler c impression, on laid paper with watermark Three Crowns (Briquet 5097, dated Leiden circa 1591-1612), particularly harmonious for the balance of colours. Complete of the borderline, with the exception of a small section on the right.
In very good condition, minor flaws.
In early catalogues this woodcut was described as The Magician. Recently the subject was identified as The Cave of Eternity. The central figure is Demogorgon, the father of the gods. He is the embodiment of chaos and the creator who transform the unformed universe. To the left is the Ouroboros, the snake biting its tail, symbolizing eternity. On the right is a sphere containing Diana of Ephesus, representing nature.
The Cave of Eternity is closely related to Hercules and Cacus in style and technique. In both the prints the line block is dominant, defining composition. For this reason Nancy Bialler dates the two woodcuts roughly the same time: c. 1588.
N. Bialler, Chiaroscuro Woodcuts- Hendrick Goltzius and his Time, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland (exh. cat.), 1993, no. 26.