Boni et Mali Scientia: The Science of Good and Evil

Antwerp, 1583

£4,500

12 intaglio engravings on thick laid paper, based on images from Genesis, after drawings by Maarten de Vos. Slightly dusty in borders, a couple of small wormholes affecting blank margin only. Engravings measure 185x260mm, sheets 245×335. Explanation below each scene in a clear italic. A very good copy in modern quarter calf over cloth boards.

1. TITLE PAGE: BONI ET MALI SCIENTIA
Central title, the surround featuring Adam and Eve dozing on either side and the serpent and apple beneath, implements of agriculture – for threshing, sowing etc; musical instruments and weapons of war. Bartsch 7001.017 S2. Wurzbach 8.1. Le Blanc 39.

2. CREATION OF MAN AND WOMAN
Highly detailed scene, featuring lions, a fox and a porcupine in the foreground round the feet of Adam and Eve and God, whose outline is hazy and who walks on a cloud. In the middle-ground appear numerous trees and God sending the couple to sleep on the banks of a river. In the background, mountains rise into the distance, and a bucking horse and camel appear on the shores of a great sea.
This engraving served as the model for Jacob Bouttat’s ‘Paradise’, a painting in the Museo de Navarro, Pampalona. Bartsch 7001.018 S2

1. THE FALL OF MAN
Set in the garden of Eden, in the background we see Eve picking fruit from the tree of life and handing it to Adam, while in the tree above them coils the Serpent, half snake and half man, his arm outstretched towards Eve, against a backdrop of trees. In the foreground we see God expelling the couple, now clothed in branches, from Paradise. Around His feet lie a bird, a lioness, a deer and a magnificent spiky hedgehog.
This engraving served as the model for Jacob Bouttat’s ‘El Peccado’. Bartsch 7001.019 S2

1. ADAM AND EVE AFTER THE FALL
Expelled from Paradise, in the background we see Adam and Eve pursued by a sword-wielding angel, in front of which appear an elephant, a camel, an ostrich, a unicorn. A leafy bank rises on the left on which graze goats and rabbits, while in the foreground we see a well-muscled Adam working in his fields while eve looks on, babe in arms and toddler and chickens at her feet.
This engraving served as the model for Jacob Bouttat’s ‘Adam trabajando el campo’. Bartsch 7001.020 S2

1. CAIN AND ABEL AT WORK IN THE FIELDS
Against a backdrop of rolling hills, once more punctuated by a camel, we see Abel tending a herd of cattle and sheep, a pair of rams locking horns at his feet, while Cain drives a belligerent ox. To the right a cottage shows a family scene.
This engraving served as the model for Jacob Bouttat’s ‘Cain Agricultor y Abel Pastor’. Bartsch 7001.021 S2

1. THE OFFERING OF CAIN AND ABEL
Against the now common pastoral-familial background, the scene shows Cain and Abel making sacrifices of fruit & vegetables and a lamb, while God stands in the smoke. In the middle distance we see the murder of Abel.
This engraving served as the model for Jacob Bouttat’s ‘Sacrificios de Cain y Abel’. Bartsch 7001.022 S2

1. THE CURSE OF CAIN
Before a thatched cottage in which his wife stirs a pot and cradles her child, Cain is building, numerous sheep and donkeys at his feet. A vengeful God appears on the left, a mountain path rises in the rear. This engraving served as the model for Jacob Bouttat’s ‘Cain con su mujer y su hijo Enoch’. Bartsch 7001.023 S2

1. ENOCH BUILDING A TOWN
A scene of intense industry showing men breaking rocks, mixing mortar, collecting water and building walls in the foreground, a town with thatched houses and a castle behind, interspersed with beasts of burden and labourers. Bartsch 7001.024 S2

1. THE DESCENDANTS OF LAMECH
Depicting the house of Lamech with his two wives, Ada (light) with her shepherd and musician children, and Sella (darkness) with her daughter Pleasure and blacksmith son, here shown wielding rocks. In the background rural scene Lamech is shown with his corpse at his feet, the town behind. Bartsch 7001.025 S2

1. JABAL, SON OF LAMECH, ANCESTOR OF THE NOMADS
Busy scene, featuring nomads herding geese, cattle, sheep and camels, with further animals grazing freely, in the foreground a tent in which Jabal and his family eat, while a dog in a collar looks on. Bartsch 7001.026 S2

1. JUBAL, FATHER OF MUSICIANS
An workshop in the foreground, shows wood being sawed and planed while one man strings a violin-like instrument, and another drills holes in a pipe, finished instruments are tested behind them, to a backdrop of a town square filled with dancers and more musicians. Bartsch 7001.027 S2

1. TUBAL-CAIN, FATHER OF BLACKSMITHS
A woman spins thread in the foreground, behind her Tubal-Cain toils in his forge. In the background men work in a mill and hew ricks, which are then floated down stream on wooden rafts. Bartsch 7001.028 S2

Johan (aka Jan) Sadeler (1550-1600), was a Flemish-born draughtsman, engraver and publisher. Initially a steel-chiseler he later moved to Antwerp where he gained admission to the Guild of St. Luke in 1572 as a copper plate engraver. In Antwerp Sadeler came into contact with Maarten de Vos (1532–1603), a leading Antwerp mannerist painter and draughtsman, with whom both he and his brothers collaborated for many years.

L916

Print This Item Print This Item