Thursday, 2 March 2017

Antonio Tempesta’s etching of two horses, 1590


Antonio Tempesta (1555?–1630)
“Plate 28”, 1590, from the series of 28 plates: “Horses of different lands”

Note: The British Museum holds a copy of Plate 28 (acquired from the Sloane Collection) from the same series, but the BM online resource for this print (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=705233&partId=1&searchText=tempesta+horses+different+lands&page=1) does not show an image and the description of it does not match this impression: “a standing horse near another, lying dead.” The BM’s copy also has the plate number inscribed below the lettered text whereas the number in this impression is within the borderline. A likely explanation is that the plate was printed in different editions and the order of the plates was changed. I believe that this impression is from the c.1630 edition based on information that I was received from the print dealer when I originally purchased it.

Etching on fine laid paper with binding holes on the left (as published) and small margins.
Size: (irregularly cut sheet) 15.2 x 20.7 cm; (plate) 13.9 x 16.4 cm: (image borderline) 12 x 16 cm
Numbered within the image borderline: “28”
Lettered below the image borderline: “Reiectus ab equa sese erigere adnititur. Inseguitur cursu sociam furiata cupido / Plectitur Insuctis resonant kinnitibut arua” (Google Translation from Latin [partially complete]: “Driven effort to raise himself from the mare. Inseguitur course, she frenzied desire / Plectitur Insuctis alarm kinnitibut fields”
Bartsch XVII.161.968

The British Museum offers the following information regarding the series, “Horses of different lands”, of which this print is a part:
“Series of twenty-eight plates depicting horses from different lands; each plate showing one or two horses in a landscape; the series preceded by a frontispiece depicting Minerva in a chariot, driven by Prudence and Charity, and by a dedication sheet. 1590” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1548281&partId=1&searchText=tempesta+Horses+of+different+lands&page=1)

Condition: well-inked and remarkably crisp impression with margins and hand inscribed “28” above the image (recto). The sheet shows signs of use (minor dustiness, bumps and a few spots) otherwise the print is in good condition for its age.

I am selling this very early illustration of a female horse responding to a male horse’s unwanted attention for the total cost of AU$208 (currently US$158.46/EUR150.47/GBP129.06 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this natural history print of the utmost rarity, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


This remarkably strong image of a mare signalling her disapproval of a stallion’s intimate advances is a part of Tempesta’s series of 28 plates, “Horses of different lands”, executed at the very end of the 16th century. To my eyes it epitomises the change from the ordered formalism of the Renaissance era (exemplified by the tails of both horses’ tails tangentially brushing against the image borderline) to the spirit of Mannerism (exemplified by the clear joy of the artist in maximising the display of twisting action—bucking, kicking and rearing—between the two horses).

In an earlier post featuring Jan Luyken’s (16421712) curious engraving of an elongated hippopotamus, I discussed the inadvertent effect of moiré patterns caused by the cross-hatching used by Luyken that I perceived to be visually distracting. This print also has the same patterns occurring in the cast shadows of the horses. What I find interesting about the effect of moiré patterns here is that they are not visually distracting but rather they enhance and even animate the physical violence expressed by the horses’ actions.






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