Adam and Eve Mourning the Death of Abel

Michiel Coxie (I) Netherlandish

Not on view

The majority of autograph drawings by Michiel Coxie, who was also active as a painter and print designer, relate to prints. This sheet served as the model for the final engraving in a series of three depicting the history of Cain and Abel, of which the first plate is dated 1576. An impression of this print by Johannes I Sadeler, published in Antwerp by Gerard de Jode, is present in the Museum’s collection (acc. 53.601.17(64)). The composition and figure style, inspired by both antique and contemporary Italian models, illustrate well why Coxie, who spent the 1530s in Rome, earned the nickname of the "Netherlandish Raphael". Yet the penwork reflects the bolder style developed by the artist in his later years, as also evident in a sheet, dated 1578 and signed in the same manner as the Museum’s example, at the Crocker Art Art Gallery, Sacramento (acc. 1871.109). The subject of the first humans mourning their son killed by his brother is not found in the bible, but was inspired by the book of Genesis (chapter 4), and had been already treated in an engraving by Lucas van Leyden in 1529, and one from 1561 by Cornelis Cort after Coxie's contemporary Frans Floris.

Adam and Eve Mourning the Death of Abel, Michiel Coxie (I) (Netherlandish, Mechelen ca. 1499–1592 Mechelen), Pen and brush and brown ink, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk; framing line in pen and brown ink, by the artist; incised for transfer; verso covered with red chalk for transfer

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