Jan Harmensz. Muller, Bartholomeus Spranger - Apotheosis of Art
The Netherlandish engraver Jan Harmensz. Muller was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the finest printmakers; until 1589 he worked in the studio of Hendrick Goltzius, a genius of Mannerist printmaking. Muller often reproduced the works of artists active at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, particularly works of Bartholomeus Spranger. This is also the case of his allegorical Apotheosis of Art. Spranger dedicated his brilliantly executed engraving to the senators of his native city of Antwerp, as a token of appreciation for their support of the arts and his grateful memory of his homeland (as is stated in the dedication). The subject of the engraving tells of the pending danger from the Ottoman Empire and the dire impact of war on the arts. The flourishing of art, under the flags of numerous European states and cities, is depicted in the lower left part of the composition. However, Turkish armies are shown gathered in the opposite section, and their arrows are threatening the three graceful sisters: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. With the aid of Fame and the assistance of the west wind Zephyr, the three Muses seek refuge on Mount Olympus. There, they are awaited by Zeus, King of the Gods, who will help to defeat the enemy and the Muses will be able to return to Earth. Spranger’s composition is also known in the form of three painted copies, one of which is kept in the National Gallery in Prague.
measurements: height 334 mm
width 502 mm
in collections:
material: paper
technique: engraving
inventory number: R 170750-170751
gallery collection: Collection of Prints and Drawings
licence: Creative Commons License public domain