JACQUES DE GHEYN III
22.4 x 16.5 cm (8 ⁷/₈ x 6 ¹/₂ inches)
Watermark: Strasbourg Bend
The rare sheet in a quite excellent impression that is particularly charming atmospherically, whose pronounced plate tone seems almost to envelop the enigmatic composition in a gossamer-fine veil.
With paper margins measuring up to 2 cm around the tonally distinct platemark.
Burchard regards the first print works by the young Jacques de Gheyn III as being among the most charming examples of the art of etching in early Dutch art.
His allegory of sleep clearly refers to Karel van Mander’s celebrated Schilder-Boeck of 1604, whose 6th book, entitled Wtbeeldinge der figueren, describes the personification of sleep as a youthful figure, since he is for mortals the most congenial of all of the gods. He is accompanied by a transparent horn from which true dreams emerge, and an elephant’s tusk, from which menacing or false dreams issue forth. In de Gheyn’s superb pictorial invention, in which the figure of Sleep is concealed almost entirely by the bizarre drapery formations of his garments, it is only the true dreams that escape from the transparent horn, rendered in the fantastically shaped, cartilaginous form of an ascending cloud of smoke. This corresponds closely to the message of the French verses along the lower border, which herald the blessings Sleep prepares for all men, whether kings or shepherds, and regardless of whether they number among the fortunate or the unfortunate.