Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Giovanni Cesare Testa’s etching, “The Body of Christ Mourned by Angels” after Pietro Testa and Karel Dujardin's "The Battlefield"


Giovanni Cesare Testa (1630–55, Parma)
“The Body of Christ Mourned by Angels”, c.1650, after Pietro Testa (1612–50)
Etching on heavy laid paper with narrow margins.
Size: (sheet) 19.7 x 25.7 cm; (plate) 19.2 x 25.3 cm; (image borderline) 18.6 x 24.5 cm
State ii (of ii)
Inscribed in the image in the lower right corner “[entwined letters] PTL Lo: Ces: Testa Inc."; below, in a different script: “Gio Jacomo de Rossi formis Romae alla Pace”; above: “Pietro Testa Inv.”

The National Gallery of Scotland offers a description of this print and advises that the copy in their collection was purchased “July 1979 from Christopher Mendez for £15,500” (https://art.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/134477/dead-christ-mourned-angels?page=1&artists[21380]=21380&search_set_offset=79)
The British Museum holds one of the original drawings by Pietro Testa used for this print. The curator’s discussion about this drawing and its extension into other artworks is very interesting; see http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=714150&partId=1&searchText=cesare+testa&view=list&sortBy=objectTitleSort&page=1

Provenance: collection of Conrad Baumann v. Tischendorf
Nagler 5 II

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with narrow margins in very good condition. The print is affixed to a support sheet at the upper corners (verso). There is a light stain slightly to the left of centre on the lower edge and there are other areas of minor toning.

I am selling this exceptionally rare print for a total cost of AU$437 (currently US$314.71/EUR301.18/GBP256.78 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this startling and anatomically fine portrayal of Christ, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.








Giovanni Cesare Testa’s printmaking career is somewhat shrouded in mystery. One thing is certain, however, his prints are rare and seldom found on the market and they command high prices (for example the National Gallery of Scotland acquired their copy of this print in “July 1979 from Christopher Mendez for £15,500” according to the gallery’s website). A part of the mystery surrounding GC Testa is that the main source of documentation about him is written by Filippo Baldinucci “(1847) in “Notizie dei professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua …” (reprinted in 1974) which Elizabeth Cropper (1988) in “Pietro Testa 1512–1650: Prints and Drawings” advises is “not especially accurate” (p. 240). Nevertheless, from what I understand, GC Testa was P Testa’s nephew on his father’s side. The details that I am choosing to ignore is the claim that GC Testra was born in 1640 and that his printmaking career was condensed to just the five years after the death of P Testa. One intriguing glimpse into GC Testa’s life is made by Giovanni Battista Passeri (1679) in “Die Künstlerbiographien” (Ed. Jacob Hess, 1934) with the curious comment that GC Testa’s “death was not so worthy of compassion.” (p. 188; see also Cropper [1988] p. 240).

If I may leave the mire of information and misinformation surrounding GC Testa for the others to ponder, what I love about this print is how well the figure of the dead Christ is drawn. Indeed, the drawing of this figure is so confidently handled—apart from the torso that may be a little too schematic in the delineation of musculature—that it compares very favourably with the dead figure portrayed in Karl Dujardin’s (1622–78) “The Battlefield” (1652) that the great master, Walter Sickert, proposed: “Enlarged photographs of the naked corpse should be in every art school as a standard of drawing from the nude” (Clifford S Ackley 1981, “Printmaking in the Age of Rembrandt”, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, pp. 214–5).


Karel Dujardin (aka Carel Dujardin) (1622–78)
“The Battlefield” [La champ de bataille], 1652
Etching and drypoint on fine laid paper
State II (of II)
(sheet) 16.2 x 19.3 cm
Bartsch 1.28 (181); Hollstein 28.ii
See descriptions of this print at Auckland Art Gallery
Condition: Marvellous impression in excellent condition trimmed on, or within, the platemark. There are conservator hinges attached verso from previous mounting.
I am selling this very famous original etching by Dujardin for a total cost of AU$206 (currently US$147.82/EUR142.06/GBP120.86 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this print, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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