Suite of Two Scenes of Carnival Fools

Two Carnival Fools

Pieter Breughel (1525-1569), Suite of Two Scenes of Carnival Fools, 1642, engraved by Hendrick Hondius (c. 1579-1649). References: Bastelaer 225-226; Lebeer 94-95.  Two very fine impressions of these rarely encountered prints,  each on old laid paper:

– Two Carnival Fools (Bastelaer 225) [signed at lower left P.B. inv. Hh fecit 1642.  Cum priv.], second state (of 2), with margins, in very good condition (with a line above the plate mark at the top, possible tear and expert paper replacement upper left outside the borderline, 5 x 6 1/4, the sheet 5 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches.  With the B.6 lower left margin as noted by Lebeer for state 2.

– Three Carnival Fools Playing with Sceptres (Bastelaer 226) [signed at the lower left Pet. Breug. inv. Hhondius fecit; in the center C: privil, dated 1642 at the top, on the wall. Also in state B the number 19 lower left].  In very good condition but trimmed above the lower margin below but outside of the borderline. Possibly first state since before the number 19 as shown in Bastelaer, but possibly after the addition of the A.6 at the (now removed) lower blank margin; otherwise second state (of 2).  4 7/8 x 6 3/8 inches.

Provenance: Sotheby’s London sale of Old Master Prints, December 4, 2003. We know of only one other appearance of a set at auction in the past 20 years  (Christie’s London, June 28. 1990).

Lebeer listed this set as “estampes complementaires”, prints after drawings not necessarily intended by Breughel to be engraved; he also questioned whether these prints of carnival fools were by Breughel but did not list them as rejected.

on reserve

Three Carnival Fools Playing with Sceptres