This print belongs to the first version (conventionally designated E-series) of a group of fifty engravings known as the “Tarocchi Cards of Mantegna” – despite being neither true tarocchi nor related to Mantegna. “Rhetorica” is one of ten images in the third group of the set (marked with the letter C and numbered 21-30) personifying ten “Liberal Arts”: the classical seven known as the trivium (Grammar, Dialectic or Logic, Rhetoric) and quadrivium (Geometry, Arithmetic, Music, Astronomy or Astrology), raised to ten by the addition of Poetry, Philosophy and Theology. Many critics place the “Tarocchi” among the most important of the incunabula of printmaking in Italy. It appears that the fifty matrices were repeatedly struck, without alterations, perhaps over a period of twenty or thirty years, during which various colours of ink were employed: grey, bluish green, greenish grey, greenish brown, with the ink always watery and thin in quality, often with enhancements in gold. The present impression is softly printed in a delicate grey ink. It was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in November 1897 (Henry Foster Sewall bequest), and deaccessioned in 1918, since when it has been in private collections.
Painting, executed in tempera on linen, 115 × 52 cm (laid down onto canvas). The size, shape and medium of this painting indicate that it is a fragment of a banner or telero ritagliato which would have been carried in procession on certain feast days. Originally a triptych, with a representation of the Virgin in the centre (the fabric of her cloak is visible along the left edge of our painting), the banner was cut at an early date and two pieces of almost equal size (115 × 52 cm, 113.5 × 47 cm) are known to survive. Our fragment shows Saint Michael standing over the devil and in the act of weighing souls; the other depicts Saint John the Baptist (Pinacoteca di Ferrara, deposited by Fondazione Carife / Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara). The two fragments are documented as works of Francesco del Cossa (1435/6-circa 1477) in inventories and catalogues of the Costabili collection (1835-1841). The first to express doubts was Nino Barbantini, in 1933, followed by Roberto Longhi, in 1934, who sustained the Ferrarese origins of the artist while discounting any relation to Cossa. The question of authorship continues to attract a variety of suggestions: the Veronese artist Francesco dai Libri (proposed by Vittorio Sgarbi, in publications of 1982-1983; rejected by Sergio Marinelli, in 1990); and Domenico Panetti (proposed by Federico Zeri; cf. Università di Bologna, Fondazione Zeri, Fototeca, scheda 38391).
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 four-sheet woodcut print representing the dramatic biblical account of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18). The same formal structure, figural motifs, and landscape elements are found in the two greatest monumental woodcuts designed by Titian, ‘The Submersion of Pharaoh’s Army in the Red Sea’ and ‘The Sacrifice of Abraham’, both printed about 1515, leading some critics to surmise that the unnamed designer was active in the circle of Titian, if not Titian himself, and conjecture contemporaneous dates of invention or execution. The earliest states of the woodcut bear the monogram ‘LA’ of the printmaker, an artist probably to be identified with Lucantonio degli Uberti, a Florentine, who worked in Venice during the first two decades of the sixteenth century. Lucantonio’s oeuvre includes an edition in nine blocks of Titian’s ‘Triumph of Christ’, a variety of other multi-block woodcut prints and maps, and at least six single-sheet intaglio prints. He was a prolific book illustrator, signing woodcuts with his initials in different variations, working for other publishers as well as selling his own books and prints from a shop situated beside the Ponte San Moise.
Ten complete impressions and three fragments of this print are known, of which at least four were printed in the seventeenth century. This impression is on a watermarked paper produced at mills in the Trentino and Friuli, c. 1580-1587.
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’.
This series of engravings of Roman triumphal arches composed in the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Orders, and selon l'ordre salomonique, is among the earliest dated publications of Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, a pioneer in the production of the architectural model book. A complete set comprises a title and twenty-five plates. Six plates are missing from our group: the title, Larc dAncone, Larc de Benevente, Larc de Veronne par Vitruve larchitecteur, Larc de Suse, and Arc selon lordre ionique. The nine antique arches (the arches of Titus, of Septimius Severus, and of Constantine, in Rome; and the arches of Ancona, Verona, Benevento, Pola, Susa, and Ravenna) are mostly plagiarised from illustrations in Serlio's Terzo Libro and Quarto Libro, with Androuet du Cerceau integrating details and inscriptions that Serlio described separately. Androuet's sources for the other designs have yet to be identified.
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”.
This large format woodcut, printed on twenty-one sheets and when assembled (as here) measuring over four metres high, is a family tree of the Wittelsbach dynasty over 1000 years, beginning with the Merovingian King Clovis I (466-511), and culminating with the Elector Palatine Friedrich II (1482-1556) and his wife Dorothea of Denmark. Also shown are the Bavarian and Palatine branches of the house (from Charlemagne to Charles V) and the Electors of the Rhineland Palatinate. Altogether, 934 half-length portraits and coats of arms are depicted. The wood blocks are signed by six draughtsmen or cutters: Jacob Clauser, David Kandel, Zacharias Specklin, Ieremias Wyssenbach, and two unidentified artists, one signing with the monogram HS with a pen or brush, the other with the monogram C with a cross and pen or brush.
A spectacularly well-preserved monumental multi-block woodcut, printed on twenty-two large sheets, which when properly assembled as seven tiers of three sheets each, with three emblematical woodcuts joined to make the top border, form a picture surface of roughly 5.42 m2 (height × width: 420.5 × 129 cm, 165 × 51 in). Since their publication in 1556 the sheets have been contained in albums and have not suffered from damage caused by rolling or wall-mounting like other known impressions. The print is a family tree of the Wittelsbach dynasty over 1000 years, beginning with the Merovingian King Clovis I (466-511), and culminating with the Elector Palatine Friedrich II (1482-1556), and features 934 half-length portraits and coats of arms. On three sides is an integral border of arabesque ornament with 82 bust-length medallion portraits of Roman and Byzantine emperors and Sultan Suleiman the Great, each cut on a black ground. The wood blocks are signed by six draughtsmen or cutters: Jacob Clauser, David Kandel, Zacharias Specklin, Ieremias Wyssenbach, and two unidentified artists, one signing with the monogram HS with a pen or brush, the other with the monogram C with a cross and pen or brush. The project was begun at the command of Pfalzgraf Friedrich II (died 1556) but only completed at the urgent command of his successor Ottheinrich. Johannes Herold, who was entrusted with the task, published a small explanatory booklet, of which a copy has been bound in.
This monumental woodcut printed by forty-two blocks on nineteen assembled sheets (dimensions overall 236 × 91 cm) is a pictorial genealogy of some thirty generations of the Braunschweig-Lüneburg dynasty, displayed in the form of a tree with half-figure portraits of family members hanging like fruit on its branches. At the top is an imposing headpiece of an Emperor flanked by God the Father and His Son, certifying the authority and divine grace conferred upon the family. The print is dedicated to the “newest growth” on the tree, Heinrich Julius von Braunschweig-Lüneburg-Wolfenbüttel (1564-1613), the nineteen or twenty year-old son of the reigning duke. Work on the print commenced in 1582, when Herzog Julius summoned the blockcutter Georg Scharffenberg to Wolfenbüttel, and appointed him “Formschneider” at his court. Besides the impression here described, four other complete and three incomplete or fragmentary impressions can be located.
Drawing, executed in pen and brown ink with grey wash, 240 × 394 mm. A drawing from Cassiano dal Pozzo’s “Museo Cartaceo”, recording alternative schemes for the decoration of a room approximately 61 feet in length with four, irregularly spaced rectangular windows, precisely matching the Salone di Costantino in the Lateran Palace built by Sixtus V in 1585-1589. The project shown was not executed and the room was decorated later by others. The sheet was exhibited in Rome in 2000 and in Biella in 2001-2002 with an attribution to Cherubino Alberti. The editors of the volumes devoted to architectural and topographical drawings from the Paper Museum commissioned and collected by Cassiano dal Pozzo, have catalogued it as “Late Sixteenth-century Italian” (The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo: a catalogue raisonné. Series A, Antiquities and architecture; pt. 10: Renaissance and later architecture and ornament, by Paul Davies and David Hemsoll, [London] 2013, II, pp.410-411 no. 153, reproduced).
It is now apparent that Cassiano collected avidly both “artistic” and “documentary” drawings made before the birth of the Paper Museum. The sources of these drawings are unknown; it is supposed that some were purchased; some received as gifts from Cassiano’s numerous correspondents, and that others entered the Paper Museum by bequest. These drawings extended the encyclopaedic range of the Paper Museum and it is speculated that they were acquired to assist the education of the “giovani ben intendenti del disegno” whom Cassiano employed.
The Tuscan origin of the Alberti family and their use of quadratura perspective were major recommendations to Cassiano dal Pozzo and he owned many works by them, including at least four drawings by Cherubino and two paintings by his younger brother Giovanni (1558-1601). During the 1630s, Cassiano commissioned for his “Museo Cartaceo” a set of copies of drawings of architectural fragments by their father, Alberto Alberti (1526-1598). He employed a relation, Pierfrancesco Alberti (1584-1638), to make line drawings and diagrams for his projected publication of Leonardo’s Trattato della Pittura.
Drawing, executed in pencil, pen and brown ink with wash, 293 × 225 mm.
This drawing of an unusually elaborate early Imperial altar or statue base was commissioned by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657) for his celebrated “Museo Cartaceo”. Although better-known as a specialist in natural history, the draughtsman Vincenzo Leonardi also supplied Cassiano with drawings after the antique. In 1625, he was the only artist to accompany Cassiano on a legation led by Cardinal Francesco Barberini to France, where he documented for Cassiano objects of botanical, ornithological, geological, and archaeological interest. The altar recorded on our sheet is identified with one now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Lyon; it is speculated that it was already in France in 1625, and was drawn by Leonardi on this trip. Two other aspects of the altar by the same hand and also from the “Museo Cartaceo” are in the so-called “Franks volumes” at the British Museum (volume I, folios 150-151). Our drawing was exhibited in Rome together with other drawings and paintings from the Dal Pozzo collections (Galleria nazionale d’arte antica, Palazzo Barberini, 29 September-26 November 2000) and also in Biella (Museo del territorio Biellese, 16 December 2001-16 March 2002).
Two paintings, executed in oil on canvas, each 153 × 191 cm.
Antonio Cinatti is one of several artists who have lately come to notice through investigation of the inventories of the Dal Pozzo picture collection. Eight paintings are attributed to him therein, of which these two depicting large wading birds in marshlands at “Dawn” and “Dusk” are the only ones thus far linked to the documentary evidence. They expand our knowledge of Cassiano dal Pozzo’s prolific collecting and patronage, and indicate how his vast compendium of images on paper (”Museo Cartaceo”) was exploited for the production of natural history paintings. Another six paintings on canvas and eleven oils on paper are attributed to Cinatti in other Roman inventories. Those works, commissioned by Monsignor Jules Mazarin (after 1641 Cardinal Mazarin), Paolo Maccarani, and Prince Camillo Pamphili, still await identification.
Drawing, executed in pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk, laid to Stirling-Maxwell album sheet of wove paper, 128 × 288 mm.
This drawing of a panel relief showing maidens draping a candelabrum (‘Nuptiale Festum’) was commissioned by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657) for his ‘Museo Cartaceo’, and later passed through the collections of Pope Clement XI, his nephew Cardinal Alessandro Albani, King George III, and the antiquary Sir William Stirling-Maxwell. In the early sixteenth century, the marble relief was located in the atrium of Old St. Peter’s in Rome; after 1617, it was installed with its pendant relief of five female figures dancing (‘Nuptiales Choreae’) above opposite doors in the Salone of the Casino of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, on the Pincian hill. Its fame grew steadily and was assured by its inclusion (again with its pendant) in Perrier’s Icones (1645) and in Bartoli and Bellori’s Admiranda romanarum antiquitatum (1693). In 1807, the relief and its pendant were sold to Napoleon Bonaparte and sent to Paris; since 1817, both have been displayed in the Louvre.
The sheet was exhibited in 2001 (I segreti di un collezionista: le straordinarie raccolte di Cassiano dal Pozzo 1588-1657, catalogue of an exhibition held at the Museo del territorio Biellese, Biella, from 16 December 2001-16 March 2002, edited by Francesco Solinas, Roma: Edizioni De Luca, 2001, p.230 no. 140, with reproduction).
An album of prints of Cornelis Schut, apparently assembled and marketed by the printmaker himself. It contains ninety-eight plates that he had first sold individually, or in small sets, and has now imposed on forty-five sheets of paper of a uniform large size, with the smaller plates printed in groups of two, three, or four on a single sheet. Several comparable albums are known, with varying contents but similarities in the arrangement of the prints. They are evidence of burgeoning interest among collectors in acquiring the output of single artists, a taste that developed in the 1630s and quickly spread, soon guiding the commercial strategy of numerous printmakers, including Rembrandt.
Painting, executed in oil on canvas, 74.9 × 60.7 cm.
This “Madonna with the sleeping Christ Child” was one of Sassoferrato’s most popular compositions, and was replicated by him many times, with consistently high quality, also in horizontal and oval formats, reversed, and with the Madonna depicted in Glory and attended by angels. In our variant, the Virgin has chestnut hair, wears a while chemisette and head-dress, a red dress and a blue mantle, and leans her head against her left shoulder. The light and chromatic harmonies of our version are those associated with the autograph works of Sassoferrato. We are grateful to Professor François Macé de Lépinay for his endorsement of the attribution to Sassoferrato on the basis of photographs. He will include this painting in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the works of the artist.
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.