Marcus Gheeraerts I (1521–1636); Master Engraving - The Rat and the Oyster Aesop - 1617 - Fables
There was once a Mouse that lived on a farm. He always had enough to eat and lots of room to run around. Life was easy. However, the Mouse was bored.
Every day, he would sit by the fence to take a peek at the outside world. He would gaze at mole hills and imagine them to be mountains.
`I wonder what it would be like to travel the world,’ the Mouse thought. ‘I could ride the seas in big ships like an explorer!’
“It’s too risky,” warned his friend, the Pig. “You know nothing about the world,” said the Sheep.
But the Mouse decided to explore the world. He said good-bye to his friends and home.
After many days of travelling, the Mouse reached a beach.
`What a wonderful place!’ thought the Mouse. ‘I can smell the sea!’
Then, he saw an Oyster that the tide had washed on to the beach. The Mouse had never seen an Oyster before.
`This must be the ship that explorers travel on!’ thought the Mouse.
The Mouse put his head inside the Oyster’s shell. The Oyster, at once, closed its shell and killed the foolish Mouse.
Little knowledge can be harmful.
Issued in the series:
Vorstelijcke warande der dieren; waer in de Zeden-rijcke Philosophie, Poëtisch, Morael, en Historiael, vermakelijck en treffelijck wort voorghestelt
Plate: 13 x 12 cm. Trimmed to outside plate mark.
Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c. 1520 – c. 1590) was a Flemish printmaker and painter associated with the English court of the mid-16th century and mainly remembered as the illustrator of the 1567 edition of Aesop's Fables.
Gheeraerts is most noteworthy as a printmaker. He was a keen innovator and experimented with etching at a time when woodcut and engraving were dominant techniques. Gheeraerts' style resembles that of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In his own day, Gheeraerts was particularly famous as a draughtsman of birds and animals, and since the Protestant Reformation had halted the church art market, he showcased his talent in the fable book De warachtighe fabulen der dieren from 1567. He etched the title page and 107 fable illustrations and had his friend, Edewaerd de Dene, write the book's fables in Flemish verse. Gheeraerts based most of his motifs on woodcuts by Virgil Solis and Bernard Salomon but gave his subjects greater naturalism. Gheeraerts added another 18 illustrations and a new title page for a French version of the Fabulen that was published in 1578 under the title Esbatement moral des animaux. A Latin version, Mythologia ethica, was published in the following year with a title page likely based on a drawing by Gheeraerts.
This edition 1617.
de Vries, De Nederlandsche Emblemata, 73; Landwehr, Dutch Emblem Books, 252a; Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish, VII, p. 100, nos. 1-108