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Tuesday 21 February 2017

Lucchese’s engraving (1539) after Raimondi’s “The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence” (c.1520)

Michele Lucchese (aka Michele Greco; Michele Grech; Michele Crecchi;) (fl. 1534–64)
“The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence”, 1539, after Marcantonio Raimondi (1470/82–1527/34) after a drawing by Baccio Bandinelli (1493–1560), published by Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi (1627–1691)

Engraving on laid paper trimmed to the image borderline
Size: (sheet) 27.3 x 35 cm
Inscribed on a tablet: “Baccius Brandin invent”
Lettered at the lower edge: (left) “M.L cu privilegio”; (centre) Ant. Lafrerj. Rom; (right) the lettering in this area is difficult to decipher and the text shown here may be inaccurate, “Gio Rossi ….Petri de Nobilibus Forimnis”

TIB 26 (14) 104C (89) (Walter Koschatzky, Mark Carter Leach, Peter Morse, Leonard Joseph Slatkes, Walter L. Strauss 1978, “The illustrated Bartsch”, Vol. 26, p. 136, cat. no. 104C); see also the discussion about the engraver in  M. Bury’s (2001) “The Print in Italy 1550-1625”, British Museum, London, p. 228.

Condition: good impression from a slightly worn plate. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no significant tears, holes, folds, stains, abrasions or foxing). There are pencil notations and an ink collector’s stamp verso.

I am selling this important engraving executed in 1539 by Michele Lucchese (who signs his plates M.L.) after Marcantonio Raimondi’s earlier engraving (c.1520) after the drawing by Baccio Bandinelli for a total cost of AU$433 (currently US$331.58/EUR314.70/GBP267.12 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this print that embodies the spirit of the Renaissance era, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers the following interesting account of the shenanigans behind the publication of Marcontonio Raimondi print—one of his last and arguably one of his most famous prints—that Lucchese copied after the original drawing by Baccio Bandinelli (1493–1560):

“Like many of Bandinelli's projects, his commission to paint two large frescoes for the church of San Lorenzo in Florence came to nothing. However, his patron was so impressed by his drawing for the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence that he granted him the Knighthood of Saint Peter. In order to spread the fame of this admired design, Bandinelli hired Marcantonio to engrave it. Bandinelli is said to have complained to the pope of Marcantonio's failings. However, when Clement VII compared the drawing and the print, he concluded that the engraver had corrected many of Bandinelli's errors.” (

I suspect that having the pope support Raimondi’s version must have been wonderful for Raimondi but I empathise with the emotional pain that Bandinelli must have felt being so harshly dismissed. From what I understand about the sorry state of Bandinelli’s pride, this was not the only time that Bandinelli was scorned. He seemed to attract spiteful comments from most of his fellow artists—and even arts writers well after he died.

What makes this image by Bandinelli that Raimondi and Lucchese translated into engravings so interesting for me is its clear references to Michelangelo. For instance St Lawrence is posed like Adam reaching up to God in the Sistine Chapel and the virtual sea of naked men in the foreground—with no need for them to be fully naked that I can see (apart from St Lawrence)—smacks of Michelangelo’s joy in all things manly.

Beyond the referencing to Michelangelo, this print epitomises the age in which it was conceived. What I mean by this is that the symmetry of the composition and the formality of the arrangement of the figures harks back to classical times. Moreover, one does not have to try too hard to see the prefect of Rome (under the authority of Emperor Valerian) seated in the centre of the composition as a visual equivalent of early Roman depictions of Jupiter.

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