Wierix, Johannes (1549-c. 1618)
[Original engraving/gravure by Johannes Wierix] Madonna and child/Madonna met kind.
Rare impression by Johannes Wierix of a Madonna and Child within an oval frame with rosary. A similar composition, in reverse, was engraved by one of the brothers of Jan, Antonius and is documented in the literature (Hollstein 939). The two engravings differ in several details: the signature under the picture reads: ‘Iohan Wierix exc. BW sc.’ and the halos of the Virgin and Child are differently conducted, being the first much wider and the latter having lost the cross and added rays towards the outside.
Inscribed in the banderole inside oval: ‘Dilectus meus mihi et ego illi. In margin two lines Latin: Exultate Cirgines Christi, … nacer Christi, D Aug.’
The Wierixes were engravers and publishers who set up their workshop in Antwerp. They were especially keen on producing images of devotions which remained popular for a long time. Their plates were copied extensively: the Hollstien mentions 1380 copies, however, they may be more. Their copper plates were copied but also reissued until the nineteenth century and the present engraving might belong to the late reissues.
In the late 1990s in Amsterdam surfaced 75 plates from the Wierix workshop, belonging to the presbytery of ‘De Krijtberg’, a Jesuit institution. Other 80 are in private hands. The preservation of such a great number of plates (the Hollstein mentions 170, in which the 75 from De Krijtberg might be included) suggests that the Wierix’s images were sought after for a very long time within religious institutions.
Our impression most likely originates from such institutions. It was printed on 19th century paper in a technique resembling the chine collé, that would explain the shimmer on the surface of the engraving. The print was folded along the plate marks to make it smaller and thus allowing it to rest in a pocket. In fact, such images were stand-alone to carry around for private devotion. For more information on the use and circulation of the plates, please refer to the Hollstein LXIX, pp. XXIV-XXVII.
Engraving on 19th century paper; plate mark: 82 x 62 mm, total: 130 x 94 mm; creases due to folding close to plate mark, rubbing and smudges on the margins and on the plate, towards the bottom especially; interesting impression. Not in Hollstein, variant of H939.
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