17th Century Etching Sybil Hellispontica by Dutch Artist Simon Frisius c. 1605


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Title: Sybil Hellispontica
Artist: Simon Frisius - (c. 1580-1628) - Dutch artist.
Technique: Engraving and etching
Signature: Unsigned, identified in pencil below the image.
Date: c. 1605
Edition: Limited Edition
Dimensions: Sheet size - 7 x 9 inches, Image size - 4-1/8 x 5-1/4 inches.
Condition: Very Good condition with some light soiling, trimmed top margin, and a small piece missing in the upper left corner of the sheet.
References: Hollstein VII, p. 14. This print is in the collection of the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam and can be seen on their website.
Printing: A good impression printed in black ink on off white handmade paper.
Presentation: Unmatted and unframed. Blank on the back, not laid down. Ships in a plastic archival sleeve.
Description: This is one in a series of 12 Sybils and Saints that Frisius drew and etched c. 1605 for a series called The Sybils that was published by J.P. Schabaelie. The Sybils from ancient Greece and Rome were the priestesses who presided over the temples. During the Renaissance their images were used in religious art as early prophecies of Christianity.

The Hellespontine Sibyl was known, particularly in the late Roman Imperial period and the early Middle Ages, for a claim she that predicted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This claim comes from the Sibylline Oracles.

This early etching was printed before the later text and artist information were added in the space beneath the image, but the number "8" was part of the original engraving. The later text in Latin/Dutch as was printed in the finished book can be seen on the print in the Rijks Museum.

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Simon Frisius was a prolific etcher and engraver who received great praise from contemporaries for his printmaking skills. In the introduction to his important manual on the techniques of etching, Abraham Bosse cited Frisius first, before Mathäus Merian and Jacques Callot, as the etcher to whom he was most indebted. Frisius was also highly sought after for his talent as an engraver of calligraphy books.

Frisius’ career as a printmaker can be divided into two main parts. He began in France, Rouen and then Paris, where he engraved books of calligraphy. He returned to Holland, and although he engraved several calligraphy books there as well, he became much more productive as an etcher of reproductive prints in Amsterdam and The Hague. His manner of etching is elegant, and his subjects run the gamut from large panoramas of cities, landscapes, religious, historical, and mythological subjects, as well as portraits. He eventually gave up printmaking altogether in order to become a businessman.

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