Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Castiglione’s etching, “A bearded man wearing a tasselled headdress facing left”, c.1648–50


Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609–64)
“A bearded man wearing a tasselled headdress facing left”, c.1648–50, from the series, “Large studies of heads in Oriental headdress”, published in McCreery’s 1816 edition of “200 Etchings.” (Note: my attribution to McCreery’s edition is based solely on the wear to the plate and how the print is trimmed.)

Etching on fine laid paper trimmed along the image borderline and lined onto a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 18.5 x 15 cm
Inscribed in plate at upper left: “CASTILIONE / GENOVESE”
Final state (?) as published in the 1816 McCreery’s edition

TIB 46 (21).51 (33) (Walter L Strauss & Paolo Bellini [Eds.] 1982, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 46, p. 54); TIB Comment.46.4602.051 S2; Bartsch XXI.33.51 (Adam von Bartsch “Le Peintre graveur”. Vienna, 1803); Bellini 1982, cat.no. 44.II (Paolo Bellini “L'opera incisa di Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione” Exh. cat., Castello Sforzesco, Civiche Raccolte Achille Bertarelli, Milano. Civica raccolta delle stampe A. Bertarelli, Milan, 1982)

Condition: good impression but with signs of wear to the plate. The sheet is in very good condition, trimmed to the plate mark and has been laid onto a support sheet of fine washi paper. There are a few surface marks in the area around the head and there is a collector’s ink stamp (verso)

I am selling this original etching by Castiglione—the artist claimed to have made the first monotype—for AU$220 in total (currently US$164.59/EUR146.23/GBP127.27 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. If you are interested in purchasing this fine vignette portrait by an old master, 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


The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers the following insight about this print:
“This etching represents the motif of an exoticisng [sic] oriental head that Castiglione returned to many times in the 1640s. Perhaps partly inspired by the foreign traders who frequented the port city of Genoa, these character heads also stem back to the prints of Rembrandt and Jan Lievens. Castiglione produced two series of these exotic types, both large and small, in which he demonstrated his inventiveness and ability to produce a rich chiaroscuro of dramatic lighting with nothing more than an etcher’s needle.” (http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/399785)

Although I love Castiglioni’s etchings of tronies—i.e. the 16–17th-century Dutch word for "face", which Wikipedia defines as “a common type, or group of types, of works common in Dutch Golden Age painting and Flemish Baroque painting that shows an exaggerated facial expression or a stock character in costume”—my interest in Castiglioni is more centred in the way that he integrates his figures with their immediate surroundings. For instance, note how Castiglioni intentionally avoids creating an outline around this figure’s headdress and, instead, leaves gaps in the outer silhouette lines so that the head visually “melts” into the background. This treatment ensures that the head and background are perceived as a cohesive whole. For me this simple principle is the hallmark of a master draughtsman.





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