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Pearl diving
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Pearl diving

Circa 1596

Stradanus (1523 - 1605)

Pen and brown ink with wash and white bodycolour, on laid paper

Width: 27.3 cm; Height: 19.5 cm;

Pen and brown ink by the artist, lower right of centre & recto, ioan stradanus

Pen and brown ink, below the framing lines & recto, aro Balbi Venetiano in den Reÿse van indie di levanta schet iur[?] isole de ormus Nessesense[?]e de perlen op dese maniere maken op derde tenten... (further text t

Acquisition (source, method, date)
Witt, Robert Clermont (Sir); bequest; 1952

About this work
This highly detailed study was made in preparation for a print, published in Antwerp in 1600. It shows men diving for pearls in the Persian Gulf. Fishermen are lowered to the ocean’s floor from rowing boats to search for oysters. Others are shown bringing their finds to shore to be evaluated. The inscription in the lower margin commemorates the expedition of the Venetian merchant Gasparo Balbi to study local methods of pearl fishing in Persia in 1580. (Permanent collection label)

Copyright: © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

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