The designs for all forty plates were made by Stradanus, but only in a few cases do the prints include the name of the engravers responsible, and their identification has been the subject of much scholarly debate, as has the original sequence and collation of the prints, which seem to have been published over time, in several parts. Alessandra Baroni Vannucci has suggested that the first fourteen prints were executed by Hieronimus Wierix, but after the artist was forced to flee Antwerp in 1578, the project was completed by Hendrick Goltzius, who is thought to have made fifteen of the plates, and by Hans Collaert the Elder, his son Adrien Collaert, and others.1 The print after the present drawing (fig. 1), which may have been no 20 or 27 in the series, is now considered to have been engraved by Hans Collaert the Elder (1545-1628).2
Including the present work, ten drawings by Stradanus relating to this grand series are known, seven of them in public collections, and two others recently on the art market.2 This is one of the most engaging and handsome of all the surviving drawings from the group, showing the horse elegantly pacing to the right, his head turned to the viewer, with a very slight and subtle indication of a landscape.
The drawings were referred to by Raffaello Borghini in Il Riposo, published in Florence in 1584, who wrote that they represent ‘tutte le sorte di cavalli d’ogni provincia’.
1. A. Baroni Vannucci, Jan Van der Straet detto Giovanni Stradano, flandrus pictor et inventor, Milan 1997, pp. 366-7; ‘Sardonicus’ reproduced p. 368, no. 27
2. A. Diels and M. Leesberg, The New Hollstein, Dutch & Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, 1450-1700. The Collaert Dynasty, Part VI, Ouderkerk aan den Ijssel 2005, p. 186, no. 1486, reproduced p. 189
3. Florence, Uffizi, inv. no. 861 Orn and 863 Orn (see Vannucci, op. cit., nos 361, 368, reproduced); Philadelphia, Museum of Art, inv. no. 28. 42. 4033 (Vannucci, no. 362); Nancy, Musée des Beaux Arts, inv. no. 1714 (Vannucci, no. 363, reproduced); Leiden, Pretenkabinet der Rijksuniversiteit, inv. nos. 1210, 1211 (Vannucci, nos. 364, 367, reproduced); Rome, Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, Fondo Corsini, (Vannucci, no. 366, reproduced); sales London, Sotheby's, The Clifford Collection, 3 July 1989, lot 29 and New York, Christie's, 27 January 2008, lot 17 (Vannucci no. 365); sale New York, Sotheby's, 26 January 2011, lot 519
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