Skip to content


An image of Proserpine by Hendrick Goltzius

Hendrick Goltzius

(Netherlands 1558 – 1617)

Other titles:
Media category
Materials used
chiaroscuro woodcut, line block in black and tone blocks in olive green and tan

34.7 x 26.2 cm image (oval); 39.4 x 29.0 cm sheet (irreg.)

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased 1983
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Pluto abducted Proserpine while she was gathering flowers in a glade in Sicily and carried her off to the land of the dead to be his wife. Jupiter interceded to have her set free but she was forced to spend part of each year in the land of the dead. While she is absent from the world, in autumn and winter, vegetation dies; in spring and summer, when she is free to live on the earth, nature regenerates and flourishes. In this print she perches weightlessly on a rock with her body impossibly twisted into a graceful serpentine curve. Her habitat is a landscape of natural abundance befitting the goddess of fertility.

Bibliography (2)

Nicolas Draffin, Piety and Paganism, 'Introduction', pg. 3-5, Sydney, 1991, 4, cover (colour illus.), 15.

Renée Free, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 113 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (3)

Piety and Paganism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Jul 1991–29 Sep 1991

Old Europe: Prints & drawings from the collection 1500-1800, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Jun 2006–06 Aug 2006

European prints and drawings 1500-1900, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Aug 2014–02 Nov 2014