Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Perseus and Andromeda
Goltzius was one of the finest and most productive printmakers of the northern Renaissance. He made twenty-five chiaroscuro woodcuts, engraved or etched over 350 plates, and also provided many designs to be engraved by others. The present sheet was drawn as the model for an engraving by Goltzius's step-son, Jacob Matham, dated the same year as the drawing, and the outlines of the composition were sharply incised during the transfer of the design to the copper plate. Goltzius's use of red chalk for the flesh tones was not strictly necessary as the engraving was printed in black only, but it gives the drawing a beautifully rich effect.
As with many compositions of the Northern Mannerists, the dramatic focus of the narrative - in this case Perseus's battle with the (here rather unassuming) sea monster - is relegated to the background, while the majority of the pictorial surface is occupied by gesturing figures. The inclusion of a crowd of onlookers is, however, faithful to the version of the myth in Ovid's Metamorphoses, with Andromeda's parents, Cepheus and Cassiopeia, lamenting the Princess at centre right.
Signed lower centre with the artist's monogram HG, and dated on Andromeda's rock A°. 1597
Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002