The private tears of Bartholomeus Spranger

privatas sacrymat2Christina Müller was the beloved wife of the Mannerist painter Bartholomeus Spranger. When she died, he painted an allegory in her memory and had it engraved by his friend and colleague Aegidius Sadeler. The elaborate print shows Spranger, surrounded by the personifications of the visual arts. He is pointing to his wife on the right, who is also admired by a putto holding a scull, with one foot on an overturned hourglass. Spranger is ready to follow her but just as Death is about to spear him, Time steps forward to show that the painter’s hourglass is not yet empty.

Inscribed at the bottom of the plate: Priuatas lacrymas Bart. Sprangeri Egid. Sadeler miratus artem et amantem redamans, publicas fecit: et eidem promutua beneuolentia dedicauit. Pragae Anno Seculari [The private tears of Bartholomeus Spranger are made public by Aegidius Sadeler, who admired his art and his marriage; and dedicates the print to him with sincere affection. At Prague in the centennial year.]

privatas sacrymatAegidius Sadeler, the younger (ca. 1570-1629) after Bartholomeus Spranger (1546–1611), Portrait of Bartholomeus Spranger with an Allegory of the Death of his Wife, Christina Müller, 1600. Engraving. Graphic Arts Collection GAX Flemish prints