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This engraving from the Print and Drawings Department in the British Museum is dated ca. 1587 and was made by Jacob Matham (1571–1631), an engraver and publisher from Haarlem, after a design of his stepfather Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617). He began as an engraver, and established his own publishing business in Haarlem in 1582. For the next six years, Goltzius held a monopoly in the northern Netherlands on publishing designs by contemporary artists. Between 1586 and 1590 Goltzius’ print publishing activities blossomed and he travelled to Italy in 1590-91, leaving Jacob Matham and Jan Saenredam in charge of the business. Around 1598 he handed over all his engraving and publishing activities to his stepson, Jacob Matham. Goltzius gave up the business of printmaking completely after 1598 to concentrate on painting until his death in 1617 [1].

This engraving is one in a series of seven called “The Vices” and pictures sloth with a female figures, a snail on her hand, together with a resting donkey.

BML_PD 1873.0809.485_

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The snail is stylised, sinistral, the animal with only the two larger tentacles, and an eye-spot.

[1] BML, inv. PD 1873.0809.485. http://to.ly/KHYw.