Hercules Seghers

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Seghers, 1615-30: 'Landscape with overhanging fir', etching on paper, hand-colored; location: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Seghers, 1620-30: 'The two Trees', etching in brown ink on paper (with pink and blue bodycolor); location: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Rijksprentenkabinet - quote by Samuel van Hoogstraten, 1678: 'But Hercules Segers first applied a layer of paint to his papers or fabrics for his smooth compositions of skies, horizons and foregrounds, and then printed on to them.'
Seghers, c. 1625: 'Panoramic Landscape', oil-painting on canvas mounted on panel; location: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Room 8 - quote by Samuel van Hoogstraten, 1678: '..his observation was unwavering and effective, particularly in his design of landscapes and compositions, with imaginary mountains..'
Seghers, 1622-30: 'View of the Noorderkerk' (church in Amsterdam old city with a view from Segers' house); etching on linen; location: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam - quote by Samuel van Hoogstraten, 1678: '..although he even painted and printed on his shirts and the sheets from his bed.. ..his dejected wife eventually complained that there was not a piece of linen left that had not been used. '
Seghers, c. 1628: 'Landscape with City on a River', oil-painting on oak panel; location: Gemäldegalerie Berlin
Seghers & Rembrandt, c. 1653: 'The Rest on The Flight into Egypt' [1], etching, drypoint and burin, on paper; location: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet

Hercules Pieterszoon Seghers or Segers (c. 1589 – c. 1638) was a Dutch painter of landscape paintings and an experimental and innovative printmaker in the Dutch Golden Age - the 17th century in The Netherlands.

Quotes[edit]

There are no quotes left from Hercules Seghers himself, but fortunately we have some reliable quotes from some contemporaries of Seghers about his work, who were standing close to him in time, like Samuel van Hoogstraten, the painter/writer.

Quotes about Hercules Seghers[edit]

17th century[edit]

from: Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst: Anders de zichtbaere werelt, by Samuel van Hoogstraten, (Rotterdam, 1678)

  • The method of printing with three wooden blocks produces painterly prints. But Hercules Segers first applied a layer of paint to his papers or fabrics for his smooth compositions of skies, horizons and foregrounds, and then printed on to them, in a very effective and painterly manner.
  • [Dutch original text:] De wijze van met drie hout plaeten te drukken geeft schilderachtige prenten. Maer Herkules Zegers heeft papieren of doeken, met zachte gronden, van luchten, verschieten, en voorgronden eerst een verfken gegeven, en daer op de print gedrukt, zeer aerdich en schilderachtig.
    • p. 196 - 'Thalia', Fifth book, seventh chapter, 'Zijn konst openbaer te maeken' ('Making One's Art Public') - in the margin: 'Printschildery' ('Print painting')
  • It is a common failing among practitioners of art to become accustomed to a way of coloring, as if things were bound to their manner, and not their manner bound to the nature of things. Many, however, because of a certain natural inclination, adopted manners of coloring that seemed ideally suited to that branch of art to which they were most inclined. And so Hercules Segers concerned himself with savage mountains: and one [another artist:] Liefrinck painted imaginative rocks. Gemstones are also wonderfully colored, and the attractions of shells and other treasures from the sea have their particular admirers.
  • Het is een gemeen gebrek onder de konst oeffenaers, dat zy zich een wijze van koloreeren aenwennen, alsof de dingen aen haere manier, en niet haere manier aen den aerd der dingen verbonden was. Echter, hebben veele, door een zekere toeneyging der natuer, manieren van koloreeren aengenomen, die tot dat deel der konst; waer toe zy meest geneigt waren, zeer bequaem scheenen. En aldus was Herkules Zegers ontrent wilde gebergten beezich: en eenen Lijfring koloreerde geestige steenrotsen. 't Edel gesteente is ook wonderwervich: en de aerdicheden in zeegewassen, en schelpen hebben hare byzondere liefhebbers.
    • p. 232 - 'Terpsichore', Sixth book, ninth chapter, 'Van't landschap' ('On Landscape')
  • And it is understandable, if it were possible to print finished paintings, as Hercules Segers has done with landscapes in our time, that it would no longer be easy to find anyone who would want to devote much labor and time to producing his works.
  • Gelijk dan ook wel te begrijpen is, dat, wanneer 't mooglijk waere volkomen Schilderyen te drukken, gelijk Herkules Zegers, in onzen tijdt, met lantschappen heeft aengevangen, men niemant lichtelijk meer vinden zoude, die lust zouw hebben zijn werken met grooten arbeyt en tijdt uit te voeren.
    • p. 240-41 - 'Terpsichore', Sixth book, ninth chapter, 'Van de Handeling of maniere van schilderen' ('Concerning Handling or the Manner of Painting') - In the margin: 'Toepaden' ('Shortcuts')
  • Another fitting example here is that of Hercules Segers, disregarded and yet a great artist... ...His observation was unwavering and effective, particularly in his design of landscapes and compositions, with imaginary mountains and caves. It was as if he were pregnant with whole provinces, giving birth to them with immeasurable spaces, and picturing them to a marvel in his paintings and prints.
  • Hierby past noch een staeltje van den ongeachten en nochtans, in de konst, grooten Herkules Zegers... ...Hy was van een gewis en vast opmerken, zeker in zijn Teykening van lantschappen en gronden, aerdich in verzierlijke bergen en grotten, en als zwanger van geheele Provinsien, die hy met onmetelijke ruimtens baerde, en in zijne Schilderyen en Printen wonderlijk liet zien.
    • p. 312 - 'Calliope', Eighth book, ninth chapter, 'Hoe zich een Konstenaer te draegen heeft tegens 't gewelt der Fortuine' ('How an Artist Should Conduct Himself against the Blows of Fortune') - In the margin: 'Staeltje van Herkules Zegers' ('Example of Hercules Segers')
  • ...although he even painted and printed on his shirts and the sheets from his bed (for he also printed paintings), he and his whole family remained in abject poverty, so that his dejected wife eventually complained that there was not a piece of linen left that had not been used for paintings or prints.
  • ...want schoon hy zijn hemden en lakens van zijn bedde verschilderde of verdrukte (want hy drukte ook Schildery) hy bleef in d'uiterste armoede met zijn gansche gezin, zoo dat zijn bedroefde vrouwe eyndelijk klaegde, dat al wat'er van lynwaet geweest was, verschildert of verprint was.
    • p. 312 - 'Calliope', Eighth book, ninth chapter, 'Hoe zich een Konstenaer te draegen heeft tegens 't gewelt der Fortuine' ('How an Artist Should Conduct Himself against the Blows of Fortune') - In the margin: 'Staeltje van Herkules Zegers' ('Example of Hercules Segers')

20th century[edit]

  • Unfortunately, we have no clues about Segers's reputation as an etcher during his lifetime, and it seems very probable that those of his prints which have survived were originally gathered in a few large, privately owned and therefore inaccessible groups. This inaccessibility partly explains their minimal influence on later artists.
    • John Rewald, Hercules Segers, publisher George Braziller, New York, 1979, p. 13
  • [ Rembrandt ] admired Seger's reworking of the [etch-]plate to create different states. This adventurous approach to printmaking [new developed by Segers] was taken up enthusiastically by Rembrandt, and gives a new significance undreamt of by Segers.
    • John Rewald, Hercules Segers, publisher George Braziller, New York, 1979, p. 21
  • Before Segers began touching up his prints with the brush, he had used hand-tinted papers on which to print his etchings.. .By varying the tints he was able to clarify the relation of successive planes to each other. But spatial clarity was not enough. What mattered more to Segers was bringing out the structure of the landscape.. ..he goes especially far in specifying, with the brush [in the etching] the particularities of the terrain.
    • K.G. Boon in 'Introduction' of Hercules Segers: The Complete Etchings, E. Haverkamp Begemann, Springer 2013 p. 5.

External links[edit]

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