Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c. 1520-1590); Hand coloured - The Snake and the Farmer [Aesop] - 1620

Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c. 1520-1590); Hand coloured - The Snake and the Farmer [Aesop] - 1620
Engraving - Not signed - 1620


The Snake and the Farmer is a fable attributed to Aesop, of which there are ancient variants and several more from both Europe and India dating from Mediaeval times. The story is classed as Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 285D, and its theme is that a broken friendship cannot be mended. While this fable does admit the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship between man and snake, the similarly titled The Farmer and the Viper denies it.

Issued in the series:

Vorstelijcke warande der dieren; waer in de Zeden-rijcke Philosophie, Poëtisch, Morael, en Historiael, vermakelijck en treffelijck wort voorghestelt

Plate: 13 x 12 cm. Trimmed to outside plate mark.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c. 1520 – c. 1590) was a Flemish printmaker and painter associated with the English court of the mid-16th century and mainly remembered as the illustrator of the 1567 edition of Aesop's Fables.

Gheeraerts is most noteworthy as a printmaker. He was a keen innovator and experimented with etching at a time when woodcut and engraving were dominant techniques. Gheeraerts' style resembles that of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In his own day, Gheeraerts was particularly famous as a draughtsman of birds and animals, and since the Protestant Reformation had halted the church art market, he showcased his talent in the fable book De warachtighe fabulen der dieren from 1567. He etched the title page and 107 fable illustrations and had his friend, Edewaerd de Dene, write the book's fables in Flemish verse.

This edition 1617. Dutch text to verso. Later hand colour with some use of gilt.


de Vries, De Nederlandsche Emblemata, 73; Landwehr, Dutch Emblem Books, 252a; Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish, VII, p. 100, nos. 1-108

Lot details
Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c. 1520-1590); Hand coloured
Title of artwork
The Snake and the Farmer [Aesop] - 1620
Not signed
In good condition
Sold with frame
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