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Old Masters, Allegory, Continents, Europe, Asia, Africa, Set of 3 German Antique Prints, c. 1730s

Gottfried Bernhard Göz (1708-1774) (after)
Balthasar Sigmund Setletzky (1695-1771) (engraver)
Africa [Allegory of Africa]
Asia [Allegory of Asia]
Europa [Allegory of Europe]
Johann Christian Leopold, Augsburg: c. 1735-1738
Hand-colored engravings
22 x 28.25 inches, image, average approximate
23.75 x 30.75 inches, overall, average approximate
Price on request

Three large colorful baroque allegorical prints of the continents from an original series of four, engraved after drawings by Goffrid Bernhard Göz. They each follow a similar compositional format to show the subject continent. A royal figure personifying the continent is dressed in indigenous fine clothes and jewelry seated on an animal in the center foreground  raised on a pedestal and flanked by indigenous figures. Behind this roughly pyramidal foreground grouping are sweeping landscape vistas representing local topography and scenery. Each composition is surrounded by a trompe-l’oeil border resembling a gold frame. In the lower margin, verses in Latin and German provide information about the continent focusing on its particular attributes. Allegories of the continents were a recurring theme in European works of art of the Renaissance through the 19th century. They were frequently employed in the cartouches and illustrations of Dutch and other European maps in this period. In the works of Göz alleogrical continents occur in fresco paintings,  drawings and copperplate engravings. Göz’s black chalk drawings that form the basis for the offered group of engravings are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is another print in Göz’s series of continents  representing the Americas, not present when the offered set was purchased by our gallery; hence not present in this offer. Nonetheless, these prints in any grouping are exceedingly rare; we were unable to locate any other extant single examples.

Product description continues below.


Africa: Africa is personified as a king seated upon a reclining lion on a rock. He wears an elephant headdress, and holds a scepter in one hand and a coral branch, wheat, and pearl necklace with gold pendant in the other. A servant shades him with a parasol decorated with ostrich plumes. Three bare-chested warriors gaze up at the man from the left, while two men probably representing merchants are engaged in a discussion on the right. One wears a turban, indicating that he is a Muslim. Behind this group are palm trees and hazy rugged coastline below, with ships sailing the distant ocean.

The Latin verse describes Africa as a Moorish land well known for its deserts and sand dunes. It described wild beasts, including lions, tigers and snakes, and the dangerous Nile crocodile, which preys on livestock and people.; nevertheless,  it is also a fruitful land, providing spices, wine, olive oil, fruit, silk, and cotton, as well as red corals and pearls. The next sections of text discuss the people, explaining that some are heathen, while many are dedicated to Islam. Jews live among them, as do Christians in the region of present-day Ethiopia and in the coastal cities. The verse ends by saying that while the ports support a flourishing trade in precious and beautiful goods, they also support a cruel slave trade, sending ships full of slaves to remote lands.

Asia: Asia is personified as a queen in an elaborate silver headdress sitting on a seated camel, holding a scepter and an incense burner that sends up a plume of smoke. On the pedestal at her feet are a bunch of grapes, ears of maize, a pitcher, a porcelain cup and saucer, and a coil of rope, representing products traded from Asia. Behind her on the right are two finely dressed turbaned men standing with a wrapped bale and barrels. In the right foreground, an East Asian man smokes a pipe, and a king turns and looks over his shoulder as if toward the viewer. The landscape view shows a city with a domed mosque on the left, and an obelisk on the right. An Asian ship sails across a cove. The Latin verse starts by naming various kingdoms that rule Asia: Turkey, Persia, Mogul, Sinai, Japan, and Tartar. It describes Asia as rich in fruit and spices, “rare animals,” gold, silver, and jewels, and the production of “vessels of porcelain.” It notes the Asia maintains thriving commerce and excellent fleets. The verse concludes by implying that Asia is wealthy in all ways with the exception that they have not adopted “the dogma of salvation,” i.e. Christianity.

Europa: Europe is personified as a queen in ermine-trimmed robes upon a standing horse. She wears a gold crown and holds a gold scepter and an orb, all of which are topped by small golden crosses. On the right, a woman and a man look up at her in awe. On the left, a young man points to a barrel and bale as well as emblems of the arts and sciences: a globe, a palette, a book, and a protractor among them. A man in the background looks heavenward where a winged figure blows a trumpet and two putti bear golden objects. The Latin verse speaks in glowing terms of Europe’s power and influence, stating that Europe thrives due to the widespread adherence to Christianity, the products of its craftsmen, and the excellent achievements in arts and culture.

Gottfried Bernhard Göz was a painter and engraver in the Rococo style. Born in Welehrad in what was then Moravia and is now in the Czech Republic. He was educated at a Jesuit school and then became a painting apprentice of Franz Gregor Ignaz Eckstein for four years. By 1730 he had settled in Augsburg, and likely learned engraving there. For many years he worked for the Augsburg art and music publisher Johann Christian Leopold. Many of his designs were engraved by Balthasar Sigmund Setletzky and also published by Johann Georg Hertel. From 1739 he also painted frescoes in chapels, convents, and churches. In 1742 he founded his own publishing and engraving firm and invented a device that enabled him to produce copperplate engravings with painterly shading. He was honored with the title of Imperial Court Painter from Charles VII and Company Commander in the Civil Guard of Augsburg.

Balthasar Sigmund Setletzky was an engraver in Augsburg. He was a student of Johann Andreas Pfeffel the elder. He made engravings after Watteau, les Roos, Gottfried Bernhard Göz and others. He often engraved for Johann Christian Leopold’s firm.

Johann Christian Leopold (1699-1755) was an art and music publisher in Augsburg. He was the son of the engraver and publisher Josef Friedrich Leopold. He published numerous mezzotints after Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and many engravings after Friedrich Bernhard Werner, among others.

Full publication information: Cum Gratia et Privilegio Sacrae Caesarae Majestatis. Gottfrid Bernhard Göz delineavit. Balthasar Sigmund Setlezky Sculpsit.


“Allegory of Africa, from the Four Continents.” Met Museum. (10 December 2020).

“Allegory of Europe, from the Four Continents.” Met Museum. (10 December 2020).

Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 4, p. 326 (Göz), Vol.7, p. 725 (Setletzky).

“Gottfried Bernhard Göz.” Wikipedia. 1 January 2020. (10 December 2020).

“Johann Christian Leopold.” British Museum. (10 December 2020).

Additional information


18th Century