Jupiter and Mercury in the House of Philimon and Baucis

goudtmercuryHendrik Goudt (1585-1630), Jupiter and Mercury in the House of Philimon and Baucis, engraving, 1612, after a painting by Elsheimer (1578-1610). Reference: Hollstein Bd. VIII (Hendrik Goudt) P. 156, No. 6/II. Watermark: part of a Strasbourg Bend and Lily (Heawood 141).  In very good condition, on old laid paper, trimmed just outside of the platemark and including the letters below, 8 3/16 x 8 1/2 inches, archival mounting with window matting.

A fine impression.

Provenance: Stadt. Nurnberg (Museum of the City of Nuremberg), with their double (acquisition, de-aquisition) stamp verso.

The second state is with the letters, which, as Clifford Ackley has pointed out in Printmaking in the Age of Rembrandt were “often cut off by later owners, are very much part of the total aesthetic effect of his engravings.”

Goudt made only seven engravings, all after paintings of the revered German painter Adam Elsheimer. Still, Goudt was one of the most influential of all early 17th Century Dutch printmakers, not least because of his effect on Rembrandt, particularly Rembrandt’s darker or night prints; Goudt’s engravings also influenced Italian and French printmakers; e.g., in all probability the night scenes of Jacques Callot  – including the patterning of cross-hatched lines which created darkness - were adapted from Goudt.

According to Ovid (Metamorphoses), Philemon and Baucis were an old couple who welcomed two travelers to their humble home who had been turned away by other richer households. As curious incidents occurred, e.g., the wine bowl replenished itself, it became apparent that the two travelers were not who they seemed to be, and indeed they turned out to be none other than Jupiter and Mercury. Good things then happened to Philemon and Baucis, e.g., they were granted their wish to become priests, their house became a temple and survived a flood.

In the engraving Mercury (wearing his tell-tale winged hat) and Jupiter relax at the right, while Baucis offers them a blanket; Philomon is outside in the dark with a candle gathering some food. A basket of food (vegetables, fish, eggs) is depicted lower left. A couple of tiny oil lamps illuminate the scene. Although their furnishings are modest, Philomen and Baucis do seem to have a lovely painting (with a woman -Judith? – carrying a head, a bull, etc.) on their wall.

At the beginning of the seventeeth century Goudt travelled to Rome, where he lived with Elsheimer from 1607 until just before the latter’s death in 1610. Goudt was both Elsheimer’s pupil and patron. The painting that inspired this engraving is now in the Gemaldegalerie, Dresden. This picture was in Goudt’s possession by 1612, and was one of several paintings by Elsheimer which he took with him from Rome to the Netherlands.