Saturday, 12 November 2016

Early book of 13 large engravings of saints


Exceptionally rare Italian (?) 17th century (?) loosely bound book of 13 large engravings of saints from the hand of an unidentified artist, arguably from the circle of Ludovico Mattioli (1662 –1747) (see Bartsch 1982, vol. 43, p 47: 13 [345]) and/or Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674 –1755) (see Bartsch 1983, vol. 47, p. 444: 6 [302]), based solely on stylistic treatment.

Engravings on laid paper (2.5 cm chain lines) bound with twine (but the twine binding has deteriorated and the book is held together by only a thread).
Size: (leaf) 40 x 25.5 cm; (plate size with slight variations) 28.5 x 21.5 cm
Each plate is lettered with the plate number, the name of the featured saint and two lines of Latin. (There are no publication details and the name of the artist is not given. This information is no doubt on the title page which has sadly been removed.)

Condition: crisp and well-printed impressions (most likely lifetime impressions based on the quality of the prints). A single thread of the twine binding is keeping the pages intact, but I envisage that this will break at any time. All the pages are in good condition for the age of the prints (i.e. there is light dustiness, age-toning and handling marks but there are no significant stains, holes, abrasions or foxing) except for the page/plate 6 which has a horizontal tear of 4.5 cm that passes into the lettered text of the image. I could/should reinforce this tear with archival tape but I have decided to allow the next collector to choose if this is absolutely necessary. (I am reluctant to add the tape as, for me, the bright white of the archival tape would detract from the mellow beauty of the aged paper.)

I am selling this loosely bound book of 13 large etchings of saint for a total cost of AU$613 (currently US$462.24/EUR426.40/GBP367.13 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this rare set of early engravings, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This book of prints has been sold








Sadly, time—and no doubt lack of care by a previous collector—has removed the title page to this book, consequently, the name of the engraver and publication details are not available. This has left me with the problem of doing my best to find connections between the stylistic treatment of the 13 portrayed saints and artists who work in a similar manner. to establish the name of the artist who executed these marvellous prints.

Of course there are stylistic “sign-posts” all over the prints that help in this mission, but it is still difficult and the attribution that I made earlier may well be far off-target.

For example, all the saints are shown set against a grey background created by the effect of long and unbroken horizontal lines. Although many artists use such horizontal strokes for backgrounds ranging from 15th century printmakers like Marcantonio Raimondi (c.1480 – c.1534) through to the 18th century and later artists like Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828) this visual device must be seen in relation to other stylistic devices, such as the style of the saints haloes and the manner of rendering forms in terms of light and shade.

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