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Jan Saenredam (Zaandam 1565/1566-Assendelft 1607)

History of the first parents of man

History of the first parents of man, after Abraham Bloemaert; Adam naming the animals; Adam and Eve before the tree of knowledge; Temptation of man; Expulsion from Eden; Adam and Eve working; Adam and Eve lamenting over the corpse of Abel
engraving, watermark
Bartsch 13-18; Hollstein 1 (first state of five), 2 (first state of two), 3 (first state of three), 4 (first state of two), 5 (first state of two), 6 (first state of three) [1]
good, clear impressions, trimmed just outside, to or just within the platemark

Jan Saenredam was, besides Hendrick Goltzius and Jan Harmensz. Muller one of the greatest print makers of his time. He is thought to have joined Goltzius’ workshop at the end of the 1570s and left ten years later after having cut many of Goltzius’ inventions. [2] After he left Goltzius’ workshop, Saenredam worked for Jacques de Gheyn II from 1589-1591 and later in the 1590s he engraved prints for Karel van Mander, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem and Abraham Bloemaert.
The series of six engravings depicting the story of Adam and Eve are after inventions by the latter artist and demonstrate both Bloemaert’s mature drawing style as well as Saenredam’s exceptional skill with the burin. The leading subjects of the stories, Adam and Eve, take central stage, but the compositions are further filled with (exotic) animals, gnarled trees and panoramic mountain views in the background. They are lit with dramatic light, often with sharp contracts between light and shadow highlighting the dramatic nature of the scenes. Each print is divided into two ‘stages’ that almost function as stage sets; the main event is shown in the foreground while a moment that took place before is shown in the background. The series, published in 1604 after drawings by Bloemaert of which only one is known to have survived [3] , must have been popular judging the fact that they continued to be printed by several publishers, even into the 18th century. [4] Furthermore, the compositions found their way to silverware, decorative furniture, woodcuts and glassworks. [5]

[1] K.G. Boon, Hollstein’s Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts. ca. 1450-1700. volume XXIII, Jan Saenredam to Roelandt Savery, Amsterdam, 1980.
[2] A. Beyer et al. [red.], De Gruyter, Allgemeines künstler-lexikon, Rovere-Samonà, Berlin and Boston, 2018, p. 330.
[3] J. Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert. c. 1565-1651. The Drawings, 2007, [privately printed], vol. I, no. 6.
[4] see, for an impression published by Isack Houwens; RP-P-1884-A-7883.
[5] J. Bolten, op. cit., p. 18; see for a woodcut after Hollstein 4, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. RP-P-2015-17-110-5 and for a glass panel after Hollstein 4, inv. BK-NM-10183-A

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