La vie de la Vierge

Size :
Condition : A+
Technique : Copper engraving

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The life of the Virgin: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Adoration of the Shepherds, The Circumcision of Christ, The Adoration of the Magi, The Holy Family

Bibliography: New Hollstein: 8-II: The Annunciation, 9-II: The Visitation, 10-II: The Adoration of the Shepherds, 11-II: The Circumcision of Christ, 12-II: The Adoration of the Magi and 13-III: The Holy Family.

Considered Goltzius' masterpiece, this series of six prints was produced between 1593 and 1594. The artist illustrates the life of the Virgin and the first episodes of Christ's childhood, beginning this sequence with an Annunciation and ending it with a Holy Family. These six engravings are a pretext for displaying his virtuosity by reproducing the styles of various masters such as Dürer, Lucas of Leiden, Francesco Bassano, the Parmesan, Baroccio and Raphael. Goltzius also took advantage of this to depict himself as a simple spectator in The Circumcision. For this composition, the Haarlem engraver chose to set the scene in the chapel of St Bavo's Church in Haarlem. Following Dürer's example, Goltzius signed the entire series of prints with a monogram inspired by the famous Nuremberg master.


Walter L. Strauss, Hendrik Goltzius: the complete Engravings and Woodcuts, New York, Abaris books, 1977, 2 vols. 

Florence Tetelain, "Hendrik Goltzius : les estampes de la Bibliothèque de Lille", in Revue du Nord, t. LXXIV, n° 297-298, July-December 1992, p. 709-725.

Maarjolein Leesberg, The new Hollstein. Dutch & Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450-1700, Hendrick Goltzius, Ouderkerk aan den IJssel, Sound & Vision Publishers, 2012, 306 pp.


Hendrik Goltz, known by his Latinized name Goltzius, was born in 1558 in Mühlbracht in the Rhine Valley near the German city of Düsseldorf. When he was barely a year old, a fall into hot coals left his right hand paralysed, a disability he described with virtuosity in a drawing in 1588. The artist began his training as a glass painter with his father Jan, continuing an artistic tradition that had been passed down for several generations. He then apprenticed with Dirck Coornhert, in exile in Xantem, with whom he learned the technique of engraving. After the departure of the Spanish occupiers, he followed his master to Holland. It was in Haarlem that he discovered the Mannerist art of Bartholomeus Spranger, which greatly inspired him. He also travelled to Rome from 1590 to 1591, an event that marked a major artistic turning point for Goltzius, who remained forever inspired by the ancient sculptures and paintings of the masters of the Cinquecento, such as Michelangelo and Raphael.