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Goltzius, Hendrik (Dutch, b.1558, d.1616), Engraver
Spranger, Bartholomeus (Flemish, b.1546, d.1611), After
Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Circa 1585
engraving
170 x 170 mm
36-1991
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1991 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
This is one of the earliest in a series of spectacular engravings that Hendrick Goltzius made between 1585 and 1590 after drawings by Bartholomeus Spranger. Goltzius was working in Haarlem where he was introduced to Spranger’s drawings by the great biographer of northern European artists, Karel van Mander. Spranger was one of the most famous artists of his day, working in Prague for the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II. Spranger, originally from Antwerp, had lived and worked in Italy, where he was deeply influenced by the Mannerist artists Parmigianino and Giambologna. He carried their style north to Prague and then, via Goltzius and others, to the Netherlands – hence the term Dutch Mannerism.
These engravings by Goltzius are considered his greatest. He developed a new technique of long tapered parallel and crossed lines to convey the dynamic poses and dramatic tonal contrasts of Spranger’s figures. The moiré effect created by the intersecting lines can be seen clearly in the outstretched arm with which Judith holds the severed head of Holofernes. Even more remarkably, Goltzius was not copying similar linear effects in Spranger’s drawings. The latter preferred to use areas of tonal wash and white highlights to convey the forms. Goltzius ‘translated’ these effects into the totally different medium of line engraving.

not on view

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