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Minerva En Mercurius Bewapenen Perseus by Jan Harmensz. Muller
Minerva En Mercurius Bewapenen Perseus by Jan Harmensz. Muller

Minerva En Mercurius Bewapenen Perseus

Minerva en Mercurius bewapenen Perseus (Minerva and Mercury Arming Perseus) c1604 by Dutch Engraver Jan Harmensz. Muller (1571 – 1628); as well as a painter of the Dutch Golden Age.

Jan Muller created between 1597 and 1606 several large-scale works after the works of the court painter of Emperor Rudolf II (1552 – 1612), Bartholomeus Spranger (1546 – 1611); which featured mythological subjects with erotic themes or overtones.

These engravings captured the exaggerated poses and muscles of the subjects, using a technique that utilized a dynamic swelling and tapering of the lines in his engravings; which is in part what made him one of the prominent engravers of the Dutch Golden Age.

Minerva and Mercury Arming Perseus, is one of Muller’s most famous works that demonstrates this technique perfectly; as it shows Perseus, a demigod who was the son of the god Jupiter and the human Danæ, being outfitted with the tools he will need to complete the task he was given, which was to obtain the head of Medusa.

Medusa was a terrifying Gorgon with snakes for hair and claws, and whose gaze could turn anyone into stone; and to accomplish his task of obtaining her head, the messenger of the gods Mercury and the goddess of wisdom Minerva, aided Perseus in his mission by providing him with winged sandals and a highly polished shield that served as a mirror so that he could see Medusa’s reflection without looking directly at her and turning to stone.

Muller’s engraving depicts a nearly night-like scene with the three main figures set against a shadowed background, with the highlights gleaming from their armor and Perseus’ sculpted body as he turns to receive the shield from Minerva and Mercury places the winged sandals on his feet.

The shield itself is an extraordinary piece of work, as Muller has engraved most of the surface lightly, making it appear transparent, and then left blank intersecting arcs across the center to create the illusion of reflected light; making this engraving a showcase to his exceptional talent as an engraver.

This is a remastered digital art old masters reproduction of a public domain image that is available for purchase online as a rolled canvas print.

About The Artist

Jan Muller was a Dutch Golden Age engraver and painter who was born in Amsterdam on 1571 and learned the trade of engraving from his father Harmen Jansz. Muller (1540 – 1617) who was a book printer, engraver, and publisher.

Jan was a prolific and skilled engraver who was known for his attention to detail, and produced made drawings, engravings, paintings, and was especially known for his portraits of political figures, royalty, and other prominent figures of the time.

Jan’s most famous works include his engravings of the mythological figures of Minerva and Mercury, his portraits of the Dutch royal family, and his collaborations with the sculptor Adriaen de Vries (1545 – 1626), Dutch Golden Age Painter, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669), and the Flemish Engraver, Jan Sadeler (1550 – 1600).

He was also known for his drawings of the great Dutch landscape painter, Jan van Goyen (1596 – 1656), which were made for an edition of van Goyen’s works; and he became an important figure in Dutch engraving, and his works are seen as a testament to the golden age of Dutch art.

Jan was also a respected teacher, passing on his skills to his students, who included the Dutch engraver and painter, Pieter de Molyn (1597 – 1661); and was an important contributor to the Dutch Golden Age of art.

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