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Bolswert, Schelte Adams, after Peter Paul Rubens
The Drunken Silenus The Drunken Silenus
around 1635-1640 around 1635-1640

Hailing from the Frisian town of Bolswerd, Schelte Adamsz. Bolswerd likely joined his older brother’s practice in Amsterdam, training with him in engraving, and proceeding to Antwerp sometime around 1617. He launched a printmaking practice, producing his own engraved compositions of landscapes and religious subjects. His fame is however grounded on his reproductive engravings after compositions by Peter Paul Rubens, which number around 80. Most of these were undertaken on his own initiative; he produced only 4 such engravings for Rubens himself, who engaged a small army of printmakers in this activity, under special copyright. These prints served to disseminate Rubens’s work widely. The present scene likely follows a now-lost drawing or oil sketch. The theme of Silenus’s drunken rampage, popular among artists for its allusion to creative fury, drew from Virgil’s sixth Eclogue. A half-animal tutor to the god Dionysos, Silenus enjoyed a reputation for prophetic inspiration when drunk, and Virgil describes one such scenes. As usual, Silenus is accompanied by satyrs who support him in his stupor. Schelte’s large print preserves some of Rubens’s characteristic monumentality, as does his dynamic and imposing presentation of the figures in the foreground plane.

 
Bolswert, Schelte Adams, after Peter Paul Rubens
Bolsward, Netherlands 1586-Antwerp, Belgium 1659 Bolsward, Netherlands 1586-Antwerp, Belgium 1659
The Drunken Silenus The Drunken Silenus
around 1635-1640 around 1635-1640
engraving engraving
plate: 41.4 cm x 32.6 cm
Gift of Ian Hodkinson, 2007 Gift of Ian Hodkinson, 2007
50-008.01

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