The Dragon devouring the Fellows of Cadmus
engraving, 1588, on laid paper, watermark Escutcheon with Fleur-de-Lys and pendant Letters WR (similar to Briquet 7165, dated Leiden 1587), a fine impression of the first state (of four), trimmed to the subject and the text below, a vertical central crease with associated small repairs and some other minor defects
Sheet 248 x 312 mm.

Bartsch 262
Hollstein 310
Strauss 261
New Hollstein 329

Please note this lot is the property of a private collector.
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Lot Essay

Hendrick Goltzius is considered the greatest engraver since Albrecht Dürer and arguably even exceeded him in sheer technical virtuosity, which is particularly evident in this print in the rippling muscles of the dragon's victims. Goltzius seems to delight in the sheer brutality of the scene, as the dragon bites off the face of the hapless fighter. With all its gory detail, such as the severed head in the foreground and the strewn-about skulls, bones and body parts, the print is reminiscent and stands in the tradition of Vittore Carpaccio's much earlier painting of Saint George and the Dragon at the Scuola degli Schiavoni in Venice.
It is a masterpiece of Northern Mannerist printmaking, offered here in a rare first-state impression.

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