Marcelle Hanselaar 'Rebel Women from the Apocrypha'

Fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the solo exhibition 'Rebel Women from the Apocrypha' by Marcelle Hanselaar at Anima Mundi, St. Ives

Fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the solo exhibition 'Rebel Women from the Apocrypha' by Marcelle Hanselaar at Anima Mundi, St. Ives


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Marcelle Hanselaar

Rebel Women From The Apocrypha


I initially learnt about these feisty heroines from early paintings and began researching their

stories out of curiosity. Not only are these women early feminists, standing up to male domination,

but what is so fascinating is the illogicality of these texts. They read like the uttering of an

oracle and have, throughout time, been open to many interpretations. I have given my own,

contemporary take as these themes are as relevant as ever. Assertiveness in women is still often

criticised or curtailed and I feel that these ancient, imaginary narratives give us a much-needed

energising subversiveness.

Marcelle Hanselaar, 2023


The Split, Adam & Eve

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

After Lilith, Adam’s first wife had left him for not wanting to be subservient to him, I like

to imagine that Eve decided on a different pro-active approach. She steps out of Adam’s

body, sexy, dressed in net stockings and high heels, tenderly comforting Adam bemused and

fearful awakening to a reality not so under his control as he was promised. A little dog licks

comfortingly his toes while the maker watches without interfering.



Temptation, Potiphar’s Wife

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph, a young and beautiful slave in her household, but he

kept evading her. One day, when everyone in the house had gone to a festival, she pretended

to be sick in order to stay at home alone with him. When the seductress jumps up from her

bed to seize him, Joseph makes a hasty retreat and she grabs only his coat.



The Taboo, the Witch of Endor

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

The woman soothsayer at the cave in Endor had been in great demand until King Saul

forbade fortune-telling under penalty of death. Yet Saul, in the darkest hour of his life,

asks such a creature to help him. All other remedies have failed him; no dreams or prophets

appear to him and he has been cursed by priests. The witch points out to this stranger that

she might be in danger of persecution as he demands of her what is forbidden. He reassures

her that she will be protected and its only when he asks her to bring Samuel back from the

dead that she recognises who he is.



The Secret, The Queen of Sheba

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

The Queen came to Solomon with a great revenue, bearing many rich gifts as she wanted

to test him with hard questions. When the Queen enters Solomon’s palace, he is sitting on

a magnificent throne in a hall whose floor is laid out with crystal, something which she

had never seen before. Thinking the king surrounded by water, she lifts her dress so he sees

what he had heard, namely that she has hairy legs. He insults her by saying, “your beauty

is that of a woman, your hairy legs are those of a man”. She ignores his insult and begins

to ask him her questions.



Genesis, Lilith, Queen of the Night

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Lilith was Adam’s first wife who refused to lie under him and be subservient to him. They

quarrelled and she left him. She was therefore demoted to a nightly spirit who clings to

men but sleeps alone. Amongst other things she is considered the lover of the snake god and

can take on the shape of snakes. Her seductive beauty, especially her magnificent hair, is

mentioned as a warning for those who are tempted to embrace her.



The Knowing, Sisera’s Mother

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

From the window, Sisera’s mother looked out, watching for his return, saying, ‘Why is his

chariot so long in coming? Why don’t we hear the sound of chariot wheels? Sisera’s nameless

mother and an attendant wait in vain for her son to return home from war. His mother muses

that the soldiers must be dividing the spoil, including “a womb or two for the head of each

man”. Her crude reference to the human spoil she anticipates prompts a parallel with what

Jael has done to her son.



The Treasure, Sarah and Abraham

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Abraham hid his wife Sarah in a box when abroad to conceal her from the Egyptian

custom officials. When they inquire about the contents he answers ‘barley’. “No”, they say,

it’s wheat.” “Alright”, Abraham says, “I shall pay the higher toll for wheat”. But then they

charge that the box contains pepper, then gold, then precious stones. Abraham gives in

every time. This behaviour arouses only suspicion and he is forced to open the box. When

the officials discover Sarah’s beauty, they inform the Pharaoh, who dispatches an army to

bring her to his Palace.



The Last Laugh, Tamar

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

A woman infiltrating the power structure. Tamar ’s first husband died and - as was the

custom - she was to marry the second brother. But he refused, fearing that her offspring

would not be his, and he died as well. She was now instructed to wait until the third son

reached adulthood, but she was not given to him. So when her father in law’s wife died,

Tamar decided to force the issue. She veiled herself, sat at the roadside and when Judah, her

father-in-law saw her, he desired her but did not know who she was. She asked, in return

for their lovemaking, three tokens from him which, later on, when she was pregnant, she

showed to prove that he was the father. Thus, instead of being burned as a whore, Judah

gave Tamar her well-deserved position.



The Condemned, Lot and his Daughters

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Two angels in disguise came to town and Lot invited them to stay. The people of the town

demanded that Lot sent out his guest so that they could have their pleasure with them. Lot

defended their honour as their host. In order to satiate the towns peoples lust he pushed out

his daughters instead. The next day the cities of Sodom and Gomorra was destroyed because

of the sinful behaviour of its inhabitants, only Lot and his family were spared as they were

considered virtuous.



Looking Back, Lot’s Wife

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

The next day the cities Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed, fire and brimstone rained from

the heavens and destroyed both cities and the lands around it. However Lot, his wife and

two daughters were the only ones to be saved. While they were fleeing into the desert, they

were warned by the angels ‘Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain or you

will be swept away’.Yet Lot’s wife did look back to that was lost and for her disobedience

she was turned into a Pillar of Salt.



The Refusal, Queen Vashti

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Queen Vashti was a queen of Persia and the first wife of Persian King Ahasuerus. When the

King was merry with wine, he commanded to bring the Queen before him wearing the royal

crown so he could impress the peoples and the officials with her great beauty. When she

point blank. refused to be ogled at by the drunken guests of the king’s banquet he dethroned

her for her dissent. The King later chose Esther to succeed her.



Unguarded, Samson and Delilah

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Samson was a god-fearing man of remarkable physical strength. He was in love with

Delilah who belonged to an enemy tribe. She was asked by her people to ferret out the

secret of his strength but each time she asked him Samson lied about the real source of his

strength. But at last he told her that his hair had never been cut and cutting it would sap

his strength. So when, after making love, he fell asleep on her lap she informed her tribe of

his secret and they came and cut off his hair and gouged out his eyes.



Vindication, Judith and Holofernes

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Nebuchadrezzar, king of Assyria, sent his general Holofernes on an expedition against

Palestine. A beautiful widow named Judith left the besieged city of B in pretended flight

and foretold to Holofernes that he would be victorious. Entranced by her beauty and wit

he invited into his tent, where she cut off his head as he lay in drunken sleep. She and her

servant hid it in a bag to take it with her to the city where it was nailed to the city walls.

When the army saw their leader’s head they panicked and dispersed.



Beauty and the Beasts, Salome

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Herod Antipas had imprisoned John the Baptist for condemning his marriage to Herodias,

the divorced wife of his half brother, but Herod was afraid to have the popular prophet

killed. After Salome danced before Herod and his guests at a festival, he promised to give her

whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, who was infuriated by John’s condemnation of

her marriage, the girl demanded the head of John the Baptist on a platter, and the unwilling

Herod was forced by his oath to have John beheaded. Salome took the platter with John’s

head and gave it to her mother.



The Untamed One, Jezebel

etching / aquatint, 38 x 43 cm, plate size 20 x 25 cm, ed 30

Jezebel is one of the most intriguing women in the Scriptures, a bloodstained yet strongwilled,

politically astute, and courageous woman. A Phoenician princess who worships

Baal, the pagan god of fertility, Jezebel marries King Ahab of Israel. She persuades him

to tolerate her alien faith, then becomes entwined in the vicious religious conflict that ends

in her death.When she hears her fate is sealed, Jezebel calmly and courageously prepares

herself for the inevitable. While a blood-soaked military commander gallops to her home

she paints her eyes with kohl, dresses her hair, and awaits his arrival in an upper window

of the palace. On arrival he orders her eunuchs to toss her out of the window and let the

dogs in the courtyard tear her apart and devour her body.




Marcelle Hanselaar was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Growing up in the formal atmosphere of

a protestant, postwar country, proved, thanks to her drop-out/turn-on rebellion, a profound source

of inspiration for the recurring subject matter in Hanselaar’s work; namely the fierce and sometimes

troubled cohabitation with those raw desires, secret fantasies and uncultivated instincts and our

functioning in a civil society. Although Hanselaar studied briefly at the Royal Academy of Arts in The

Hague, her lust for adventure, guided by a quest for self-discovery, led her to years of travel, until,

in the early 1980’s she settled down in her studio in London where she still lives. Self-taught, she

started out as an abstract painter before turning to figuration. At the same time she became fascinated

by etching, its harsh, bitten line seemed to perfectly suit her subject matter. As an artist Hanselaar

looks for ways to express those illusive questions of who and what we are when the mask is off, and

how we appear when the mask is on. The shock effect of her work lies in the contrast of combining

her outspoken subject matter with the conventional medium of oil painting or etching. Both her

paintings and her prints display her delight and fascination with theatrical illusions and although

often peppered with a biting sense of humour, the works reveals her own vibrant understanding of

human nature, in all its animosity and fragility.

Hanselaar has exhibited her paintings and prints internationally, and can be found in private and

public collections worldwide including British Museum Prints Collection, London; The Metropolitan

Museum of Art, Print Collection, New York; V & A Prints & Drawings Collection, London; V & A

National Art Library, London; Whithworth Art Gallery and Museum; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford;

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Clifford Chance Art Collection, London; The Viktor Wynd Museum

of Curiosities, London; Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, US; University of Arizona, Tucson, US;

Sakimi Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan; Guandong Fine Art Museum, Guandong, China; Iraq National

Library, Baghdad; Meermanno Museum-House of the Book, The Hague; Soho House Amsterdam;

AMC, Amsterdam; Amsterdam Arts Council; Kunstcollectie; Gemeente Haaksbergen, NL; University of

Aberystwyth Print Collection, Wales; New Hall Art Collection, University of Cambridge; Clare Hall,

Cambridge; The Ned, London; Rabo Bank, London; Merrill Lynch, London; Risk Publications,

London; Mitsukoshi Ltd., London and Paintings in Hospitals, London.

“There are many people I want to thank for the way they support, encourage and inspire me:

my enterprising dealers, my second studio, Artichoke Print Workshop and all friends, colleagues,

collectors and curators who keep me on my toes and keep the dialogue flowing.”

Marcelle Hanselaar, 2023



Published by Anima Mundi to coincide with Marcelle Hanselaar ‘Rebel Women of the Apocrypha’

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or

by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers

Anima Mundi . Street-an-Pol . St. Ives . Cornwall . +44 (0)1736 793121 . mail@animamundigallery.com . www.animamundigallery.com


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