Etching and engraving
Support: Cream(3) laid paper
Platemark: 25.1 x 18.7 cm (9 7/8 x 7 3/8 in.); Sheet: 26.1 x 19.3 cm (10 1/4 x 7 5/8 in.)
Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland in honor of Louise S. Richards 1986.244
Catalogue raisonné: Walch 9
Bellange produced only 48 etchings between 1611 and 1616, yet his brilliant artistic imagination and technical mastery place him among the greatest European printmakers of the 17th century. Although based on traditional Christian imagery, Bellange’s etchings are filled with an unusual psychological drama and a penetrating spirituality. Elongated, sensual figures engage in provocative scenes that might seem extreme or even bizarre but are characteristic of Mannerism, an international artistic style at the time. Here, the Virgin Mary spins thread while the Christ child sleeps. The basket of wool and the distaff holding the wool as it is spun both relate to the legend that describes the Virgin’s upbringing at the Temple of Jerusalem, where she spun wool and wove vestments for the priests.
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