Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Giacomo Maria Giovannini’s etching, “Two Statues of Hercules with the Lernaen Hydra and the Cretan Bull”, 1694


Giacomo Maria Giovannini (aka Jacomo Jouanninus) (1667–1717)
“Two Statues of Hercules with the Lernaen Hydra and the Cretan Bull”, 1694, published by Carlo Cesare Malvasia (1616–93) and edited by Marco Antonio Fabbri in “Il claustro di S. Michele in Bosco di Bologna: dipinto dal famoso Lodovico Carracci, e da altri eccellenti maestri uscita dalla sua scola” (The cloister of San Michele in Bosco in Bologna—painted by renowned Lodovico Carracci, and other excellent masters from his Academy) after the design by Lodovico Carracci (1555–1619).

Etching on laid paper with margins before lettering with publication details (i.e. a lifetime proof state before publication in Malvasia’s book) lined onto a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 40.5 x 27.3 cm; (plate) 37.8 x 22.5 cm; (image borderline) 36.4 x 21.6 cm
State i (of iii) before lettering with publication details in state ii and numbering in state iii.
TIB 43 (19). 39 (428) ((Walter L Strauss & John T Spike [Eds.] 1982, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 43, Abaris Books, New York, p. 307).

A copy of the 1694 publication in which this print is featured may be read or downloaded from Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/gri_claustrodism00c2ma  (note that this print features at the end of the book).

Condition: a crisp lifetime impression with proof-state faults (e.g. a scattering of ink on the upper-left edge of the plate and imperfect wiping of the plate resulting in a few losses to the background lines) with margins. There is a closed tear at the upper edge (addressed with a support sheet of fine washi paper) and light dustiness appropriate to the age of the print.

I am selling this exceptionally rare print showing two sculpted caryatids of Hercules posed with his club after defeating the Hydra and the Cretan Bull for AU$332 (currently US$249.11/EUR221.64/GBP191.96 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this graphically strong etching, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This is an extremely rare print. It is a lifetime impression before the plate was published as part of a series of 20 prints (including the frontispiece) purportedly showing scenes of St Benedict’s life based on frescoes executed in 1605 by Lodovico Carracci (and his Academy students) in the cloister of San Michele Monastery in Bosco (Bologna). I use the word “purportedly” as I must have missed the point of how this image of a pair of caryatids sculpted to represent the Labours of Hercules has a place in St Benedict’s life … unless they are saintly metaphors.

Leaving aside the symbolised meanings behind this arresting image of sculpted columns, I need to point out something exemplified in this print that every art student should know: there are no concaves in the silhouette edge of a figure. This may seem like a very obvious thing to say as the musculature of our bodies is all about the bulgy bits of muscle and fat. Nevertheless, note that in the silhouette edge of these sculptured Hercules that not a single concave can be found—only straight lines of tendons and convex shapes of muscles. 





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