JOANNES VAN DOETECUM (active Deventer 1551 – 1506 Haarlem) or
LUCAS VAN DOETECUM (active 1559 – c. 1573 Deventer, Antwerp)
after Lucas Gassel (c. 1480/1500 – c. 1568/69)

Landscape with Windmills and Christ the Shepherd, c. 1570

Engraving and etching
Inscribed in the plate: “Aux quatre vents”
15.7 x 20.5 cm, thread margins all around

Very fine impression, great depth and contrast, printing almost over-inked, minimal signs of wear, laid paper, backed with thin Japanese paper, overall in very good condition. Extremely rare.

The inscription ‘Aux quatre vents’ on two of these four fine landscape prints refers to the house of the painter and print publisher Hieronymus Cock and his wife volcxken Diercx. The latter started to use this inscription on the new prints she published after the death of her husband in 1570. This means that the landscape prints came on the market after that date. In the inventory of the estate of volcxken Diercx (1601) the printing plates she produced after the death of Cock are listed separately. Among them are mentioned ‘Zestien coperen plaeten wesende Lantschapkens’ (Sixteen copper plates being small landscapes).

Impressions of prints from this series of sixteen landscapes are rather rare, and can be found in a handful of large public print collections in Europe and America. The prints are all executed in a combination of etching and engraving which is typical for the brothers Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum. They engraved hundreds of plates for Antwerp based print publishers from the 1550’s to 1570’s. Their most famous realisation is the series of ‘Large landscapes’ which they engraved for Cock after designs by Pieter Bruegel the elder (c.1555–1556). It is clear that the designer of these landscapes must be searched for in Antwerp around the middle of the 16th century. The compositions stand in the tradition of the Antwerp landscape school which included masters such as Patinier, Bles, and Matthijs Cock, brother of the print publisher. The inventor of this set seems also to have been influenced by more recent developments in landscape art such as the works of Bruegel and Bol and the architectural views of Hans Vredeman de Vries. The somewhat naïve and clumsy accumulation of picturesque details, staffage figures, fanciful rock formations and architecture is typical for the work of Lucas Gassel. This master from Helmond worked in Antwerp and Brussels before he died there between 1568 and 1570. Five stylistically related landscape prints are monogrammed (LG) by him. This set was published by Cock and has rightly been attributed to the Doetecum brothers (Holl. 291–295). The attribution of the 16 landscapes to Gassel can further be confirmed by a monogrammed (LG) drawing dated 1568 in Berlin (Kuferstichkabinett KdZ 394). This sheet is the preparatory drawing in reverse for the print depicting Abraham and the Angels, belonging to the series of sixteen landscapes. It is probable that the designs were finished in the last months of Gassel’s life, and that it took until after Cock’s death to have the series engraved and published.

Fifteen plates from the series were reprinted in Antwerp in the 17th century (some plates inscribed with the address of Carel Collaert) as an addition to Vredeman de Vries, ‘Variae architecturea formae’.

The Teylers Museum in Haarlem possesses fifteen out of the sixteen prints. The Rijksmuseum has a set of ten, among which is the print lacking in Haarlem (Castle with labyrinth and fountain). There are incomplete sets in New York (Metropolitan Museum), Wolfenbüttel (Herzog August Bibliothek) and Brussels (Royal Library of Belgium).

Dr. Joris Van Grieken

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