Rare and impressive multi-block woodcut representing the biblical story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac, executed by Ugo da Carpi in Venice circa 1515, in four sections on four sheets of paper. When the sheet edges are joined (as dictated by the composition), the print measures about 80 × 107 cm (about 31 × 42 inches). At least eight editions of the print were issued, all without date. The earliest was published by Bernardino Benalio, who on 9 February 1515 had applied for a privilege to print three books and an unspecified number of prints, including ‘la hystoria del sacrifitio de abraham’. The first three editions are known by unique impressions (in Berlin, Gotha, and Chatsworth respectively); our impression is from the fourth edition, probably printed c. 1546–1549, shortly after the death of Bernardino Benalio, and a presumed sale of his shop materials. Six complete impressions of the fourth edition are recorded in public collections (Berlin, Boston, Hamburg, London, Paris, Vienna); the last impression seen on the market was sold by C.G. Boerner in 1933 (Auktion 183, lot 1088).
The print is believed to originate from a design by Titian, who was working in the same period on another large-scale narrative woodcut, ‘The Submersion of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea’ (on twelve blocks and over two metres wide). The ‘Sacrificio del Patriarca Abraham’ was subsequently issued (fifth, sixth and seventh editions) with Titian’s name added on the cartouche, but it is uncertain whether this occurred during the painter’s lifetime (c. 1488/1490–1576).
A multi-block woodcut print depicting Charles V’s triumphal entry into Bologna on 5 November 1529, in anticipation of his coronation by Pope Clement VII as Holy Roman Emperor, on his 30th birthday (24 February 1530). The individual woodcuts show a continuous parade of nobility, standard-bearers and heralds, musicians, knights in armour on horseback, arquebusiers, halberdiers, pikemen, and riders drawing artillery, moving from right to left. They were intended to be joined together laterally to form a frieze nearly nine metres long, and when fixed to the wall of a room, or assembled as a scroll, the print offered a panorama where the onlooker could see – or see once again, if he had been present – the whole cortège pass before his eyes. Descriptive captions, cut in separate wood blocks and printed in the upper margins, guided the viewer along; near the end of the frieze, he would read ‘Stampata in uenetia a di p.° Iulio 1530’ (Printed in Venice, 1 July 1530).
Multi-sheet, ‘mural’ prints are notoriously susceptible to destruction and loss. Of this woodcut, just six other impressions are recorded, preserved in public collections in Florence (Uffizi), Ghent (University Library), London (British Museum; British Library), Paris (Bibliothèque nationale de France), and Vienna (Albertina). The complete complement of sixteen sheets is found in only two sets (Uffizi and British Library), the latter printed many decades later, after the blocks had become severely damaged by woodworm. The other sets, like ours, are deficient to varying extents. Since the complete date (1 July 1530) is not present on any other impression, our print appears to be a unique survivor of the earliest known state.
Series of three prints, woodcuts, printed in black: Group of Seven Horses (Stallion approaching a mare with ape, elk and man looking on), tablet inscribed I° . BALDVNG | FECIT | 1534; Group of Six Horses (Ejaculating stallion rejected by mare), signed on a tablet bottom right BALDVNG | FECIT | 1534; Group of Eight Horses (Wild horses fighting in a forest clearing), signed on a tablet lying on the ground BALDVNG 1534. Later impressions, trimmed closely, minor defects. Uniformly mounted and framed.
Three woodcuts of startling originality and power, studies of equine sexual behaviour, depicting the arousal of the dominant stallion by a mare in heat, his refusal and humiliation, and subsequent battle among bachelors of the herd for dominance. The inclusion of a male spectator, possibly a self-portrait, among the trees in the background of the first scene, together with an ape (a symbol of man's fallen state), establishes an analogy between human and animal behaviour. Taken together, the three prints might be an allegory of frenzied (and ultimately ungratified) human lust.
Engraving, 354 × 227 mm platemark, 530 × 385 mm sheet.
This print reproduces in the same direction and nearly same size a drawing by the Florentine sculptor, painter, and draughtsman, Baccio Bandinelli, which is now in the Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre, in Paris (Inv. No. 190, 384 × 220 mm sheet). The large print is known in few impressions and may not have been ‘published’.
Engraving on four joined sheets, in first state (of 2). Image 360 × 1220 mm, sheets 405 × 1255 mm.
A counterproof on parchment of the Monogrammist SK’s large print reproducing Raphael’s “The Battle of Ponte Milvio” in the Sala di Costantino of the Vatican (completed by Giulio Romano and Giovanni Francesco Penni in 1524). The print is not based on the finished fresco, but on an unknown modello (intermediary drawing) of Raphael’s design, transferred to the copper plate in the normal manner, which resulted in the printed image being reversed left to right. To regain the direction of the original fresco, this counterproof was taken: clean vellum sheets were placed on top of freshly-inked impressions, and run through the press. The use of parchment as a support is unusual in sixteenth-century Italy and suggests a specially dedicated copy. Our counterproof was made from an impression of the print in first state. Later impressions have an added publication line “Antverpiae [excu]debat Martin Petreius in insigni fontis propre [novam?] in Bursam”.
Six etchings, each circa 311 × 280 mm (platemarks). Individually framed by Paul Levi in walnut with gold edge (each 49 × 44.5 cm).
A fine complete set of Stefano Della Bella’s “Sei grandi vedute”, dependent upon drawings the artist had made during visits to Rome in 1650-1656, engraved at Florence, and the matrices afterwards given to Israel Henriet for printing in Paris. The prints were heralded by Jombert as the most perfect among all the works executed by Della Bella after his residency in France, and they have been prized by collectors ever since, for their painterly style, topographical accuracy, and technical virtuosity.
Four prints, executed in punch engraving, and touched with grey wash, each circa 300 × 220 mm, with slight margins, or trimmed along platemark (pen and ink borderline added at extreme edge of the sheets). Uniformly framed.
The silversmith Jan (or Johannes) Lutma the Younger made about thirty prints, favouring an experimental method of printmaking where the copper plate is scored by a spiked wheel or roulette, in order to achieve tonal effects comparable to those of a wash drawing. The method, a variety of mezzotint, was difficult and seldom practiced except by goldsmiths and silversmiths accustomed to the use of punches. Around 1681 Lutma engraved a self-portrait, and portraits of his father and of two leading contemporary Dutch poets, P.C. Hooft (1581-1647) and Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679), as “living classical busts”, a style popularized by Rubens. The four prints are similar in execution, scale and composition, and as such form a suite within the artist’s engraved oeuvre. They were afterwards extensively touched with grey wash, adding creases to the neck and deepening shadows, possibly by the printmaker himself.
Set of four prints, in etching, engraving, drypoint, scratching, burnishing. Matching impressions from the second edition, first issue: “The Skeletons”, plate 395 × 555 mm, state 2 of five (Robison 21); “The Triumphal Arch”, plate 394 × 553 mm, state 1 of five (Robison 22); “The Tomb of Nero”, plate 392 × 554 mm, state 2 of six (Robison 23); “The Monumental Tablet”, plate 396 × 547 mm, state 2 of four (Robison 24). Sheet size of all prints 527 × 765 mm. In a set of gilt frames by Paul Levi (each 50 × 80 cm).
The four Grotteschi are among the most important and inventive of Piranesi’s prints, combining elements of human, cultural, and architectural decay in contexts of deliberate ambiguity, both as to the nature of the objects in each image and their spatial relationships. These matching impressions of the second state were presented by Agnews in 1991 as “undoubtedly one of the finest and earliest sets remaining in private hands”.
Two etchings, only states, platemarks 455 × 352 mm, 460 × 357 mm, on sheets uniformly 740 × 500 mm. Uniformly framed.
Superb matching impressions of Pitteri's famous etched portrait of Piazzetta, probably made from a painted self-portrait shortly after the death of the artist (28 April 1754); and of Pitteri's etched portrait of himself, also modelled (according to the legend on the print) after a painting or oil sketch by Piazzetta, and presumably conceived around the same date. The two prints are often considered a pair, produced by Pitteri to commemorate his long and close collaboration with the artist. As neither print was issued within a set or suite, opportunities to obtain matching impressions are rare, especially impressions in superb state of preservation with full margins like those offered here.