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Old Masters, Engelbrecht, Gardeners, Pair, Antique Prints, Germany, 18th Century


Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756) (artist and engraver)
Harte Müh und saure Garten Arbeit [Garden Work — Planting]
Blumen [Garden Work — Flowers]

Augsburg: 2nd Quarter 18th Century
Hand-colored engravings with stippling
13.25 x 18.75 inches, overall
11.5 x 7.5 inches, plate mark
$1,400, the pair

A pair of allegorical prints showing spring planting and summer blooming. The garden and its flowers and fruits are analogized to hard work and its rewards. A Biblical verse in the upper right corner and a poem below deliver the life lessons illustrated by each picture.

Harte Müh und saure Garten Arbeit show a man and woman working within a walled garden, the man turning over earth with a shovel, the woman on her knees setting plants. In the background, an elegantly dressed couple, presumably the owners of the estate, stroll through the gate. In the upper right corner are the first two lines of Genesis 3:19, the Biblical verse in which Adam is commanded to work the earth: “By the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat.” Below is a poem commenting on that verse that concludes, “Only by labor and perseverance God lets one’s blessing blossom.”

Blumen shows a cheerful man carrying a decorative Baroque urn containing a flowering plant past rosebushes; in the background four people enjoy a walled formal garden. In the upper right corner are two lines from Song of Songs 2:11-12, “For now the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The blossoms have appeared in the land.” Beneath it, the poem describes the flowers that embroider the green earth, bring joy, and “surprise August and the heart” with their fragrance, with a reminder that such blooms are nevertheless fleeting.

Product description continues below.


Martin Engelbrecht and his brother Christian were printsellers and engravers in Augsburg, Germany. Martin engraved some plates after Rugendas and other masters. His other works included illustrations for Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The War of Spanish Succession, and P. Decker’s Les Architectes Princiers, as well as other views, including 92 views of Venice. In about 1730, he created cards for miniature theaters depicting religious scenes or genre pictures of daily life that created a dimensional scene in one-point perspective when inserted into a peep box. Notably, he composed and etched a series of prints of workers and their dress, Assemblage Nouveau Des Manouvries Habilles, published at Augsburg, circa 1730. Some of his etchings of tradespeople and sportsmen are documentary or tell a story, with explanatory text or poems. Others are anthropomorphic inasmuch as the tradespeople are dressed by cleverly assembling respective trade objects that resemble clothing. Numerous examples of these are offered by George Glazer Gallery.

Inscriptions on Harte Müh:

Upper right corner: Im Schweiß deines Angesichts soltu Dein Brod essen. Gen. III, 19.

Verse on bottom: Harte Müh: Daß garten – Luft in Laft verkehrt,/ Wird diser Adams Sohn wol innen,/ Da er nun die verfluchte Erd,/ Baut unter vilem Schweiß abrinnen,/ Was vor sein Schweiß durch fleiß benezet,/ Gott den mit Gnaden Thau ergoset./ Er muß, eh er was guts einstreut,/ Die Dorn und Disteln vor ausgraben;/ Ußden Das Machßthum Ihn erfreut./ Hier alle ein Epempel haben,/ Daß nur auf Arbeit und Bemühen/ Gotte Laße Seinen Seegen blühen.

Inscriptions on Blumen:

Upper right corner: Der Winter Ist vergange & Regen ist weg u dahin: die Blumen sind herfür komen Im Lande. Cantic. II, 11. 12.

Verse on bottom: Buerst pflegt mit der Blumen Bracht/ Die Erd ihr grünes kleid zu sticken,/ Was Aug und herz Verwundernd macht,/ Und mit gerüch aüch kan Erquicken, Das blüht in Ländern oder Stöcken/ Zu Imer neuem Luft erwecker/ Dem bringt das Blumwerck Nuz Imd freud,/ Der solchs nach Christi wort Ansiehet,/ Und denkt, daß er als Blume heut/ Und etwa morgen nicht mehr blühet, Daß Saolomo mit Kleider prangen/ Nicht könn an solche zierd gelangen.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light overall toning and wear. Faint mat burn. Scattered short tears to edges, restored.


Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 3, p. 582.

Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 2, pp. 128-129.

Additional information


18th Century