The Death of Portia

Jacques Bellange

The Death of Portia


243 x 186 mm to the platemark; the full sheet measuring 294 x 222 mm

Stanza del Borgo S.R.L.


+39 02 659 8203

Price upon request

More Information

Robert-Dumesnil 38; Walch 6; Worthen-Reed 5; Griffiths-Hartlley 40;Thuillier, 2001, 65; only state
243 x 186 mm to the platemark; the full sheet measuring 294 x 222 mm
Inscribed in the plate Bellange Eques in/ventor/ incide/bat

Provenance: Sotheby’s sale London, Old Master, Modern , Contemporary Prints, 1 July 2003, lot 1; private collection.

An extremely fine brilliant impression, whit a rich  inking, the wiping scratches showing strongly; printed with warm surface  tone on paper with watermark Rampant Lion (Heawood, 3127, dated circa 1607; Walch watermarks, no. 32).This watermark is specifically indicated by Walch for The Death of Portia.

In perfect condition, the guidelines of the inscriptions visible and the stippling on Portia’s face very strong;  unusual wide margins.

The print is particularly rare; Walch lists only eight impressions in public collections: Amsterdam, Boston, Nancy, New York, Paris (two copies), Rotterdam.

For the quality of the impression and the almost untouched condition our print is of great collecting interest.


Bellange resumes a theme from Plutarch (XLVI: 53) and Valerio Massimo (IV.6), according to the moral exemplifying themes, and represents Portia, wife of Marco Bruto, taking off  her own life with burning coal exhalations, after learning the news of her husband's suicide.

Portia was  wife of Marcus Brutus, who was among the conspirators who assassinated Julius Cesar.

A painting of the same subject was listed in the 1660 inventory of Claude Deruet, who succeeded Bellange as  court painter of the Duke of Lorrain.

The particularly refined technique, with the use of stipple in the face,  also found in the Holy Family with Mary Magdalene and St. Anne and the Annunciation, indicates that the artist in his maturity has achieved a great mastery of the technical means. The elongated and elegant figures and the way of draping, shows the influence of Parmigianino’s etchings.

For another fine impression see the sheet preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (no. FRBNF42148448).


Robert-Dumesnil, Le peintre-graveur français, vol. V,  Paris, 1841, pp.81-97 (Cfr. the Supplement by  Georges Duplessis, 1871, pp. 9-12.

Worten-Reed, The Etchings of Jaques Bellange, 1986.

Griffiths-C. Hartley, Jacques Bellange 1575 c. - 1616: Printmaker of Lorraine, London, 1997

J. Thuillier, Jacques Bellange,.Rennes, 2001, page 264, n. 65.