The Holy Family
26.3 cm x 20 cm (10 3/8 in. x 7 7/8 in.)
(Antwerp, Belgium, 1546 - circa 1611, Prague, Czech Republic)
Medium and Support:
Pen and brown ink, with brown and gray washes, white and sanguine gouaches, on cream laid paper indented for transfer, laid down
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1982
Trained in Antwerp, inspired by Italian Mannerism, Bartholomaeus Spranger cultivated a brilliantly artificial and highly subjective style. In long service to Rudolf II, he gave shape to the emperor’s erudite taste and more than any other artist defined the School of Prague’s extravagant style.
By the late 1580s Hendrick Goltzius was celebrated as the greatest engraver of his time. He developed a commanding burin stroke, a strict organization of mark, and an unprecedented ability to convey pictorial properties. In reasserting the intellectual dimension of engraving, Goltzius’s style was itself one of the major developments of late Mannerism.
One of the last of Spranger and Goltzius’s seven collaborations, this engraving is relatively simple in iconography and obviously Parmigianinesque in vocabulary. Identical in size, its contours indented from transferring the design, the drawing is the very sheet from which the plate was prepared. This superb impression of the print matches the rarified beauty of its prototype.