Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569), Armed Four Master Putting Out to Sea, engraving, c. 1561-2. Reference: Bastelaer 102, Lebeer 45. Engraving by Frans Huys. Only state. [In the lower left corner within the composition, in a darker cartouche, the two juxtaposed signatures of the engraver and the designer: F.H. Bruegel. Below, at the right in the margin, the inscription Cum priuileg.]
In excellent condition, a tiny pinhole lower left near margin, a few tiny nicks lower edge, very small loss upper edge right; the print expertly hinged to a band of laid paper top edge). On old laid paper with a small crown (?) watermark; with margins, 8 3/4 x 11 3/8, the sheet 9 3/8 x 12 1/16 inches.
A fine crisp impression of this great rarity; it is particularly unusual to find an impression of this quality and condition in today’s print market.
Provenance: C.G. Boerner, Inc.
Manfred Sellink, in the catalogue for the landmark show of Brueghel’s engravings and drawings at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (Pieter Brueghel the Elder: Drawings and Prints) notes that although Breughel surely made numerous sketches, elaborate studies and detailed preparatory drawings for the sailing vessel prints, all are lost except for a few generally related drawings, such as a View of the River Scheldt near Antwerp (at the Courtauld). After the engraver Huys died, in 1562, the publisher Cock stopped production of the Sailing Vessel series; perhaps this accounts for their rarity.