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Monday 7 August 2017

Filippo Luzi’s etching, “St. Lazarus paints the Madonna”, 1692

Filippo Luzi (aka Filippo Luzzi; Philipe Lucius; Philip Lutius; Philipp Lutius) (1665–1722)
“St. Lazarus paints the Madonna”, 1692, after the composition of an unidentified artwork by Lazzaro Baldi (1622/24–1703) (see note further below).

Etching on laid paper.
Size: (sheet) 40.3 x 30.1 cm; (plate) 34.1 x 22.7 cm; (image borderline) 33.5 x 21.9 cm
Lettered in the text box below the image: “S. LAZARI MARTYRIS MONACHI ATQ[U]E PICTORIS / D. Abb.DOMINICO CAPPELLO SANCTISS. D.N.Ceremoniarum Magistro Amico carissimo — / Lassarus Baldus Piftorienis D. D. D.”
Lettered below the text box: (left) "Philip. Lucius del: et sculp:”; (right) “Romae Superiorum permissu 1692.” (Note: the date may be “1602”, but this could not be correct mindful that Luzi was not born at this time.)

The Hamburg Kunsthalle offers the following description of this print:
“St. Lazarus (?) sits in front of a canvas, paints the Madonna and reaches [for] another Christ picture [from] a man sitting on the floor, who already holds some pictures and sits on them. Before Lazarus kneels a monk, he holds three snakes in a book in his right hand, and with his left grips the arm of Lazarus. In the background are a monk and a painter.
This scene could not be associated with the Vita of Lazarus. In Nagler's artist's Lexicon the book is listed under Philipp Lutius and refers to Lazzaro Baldi, whose original, however, could not be identified. See Nagler, Künstler-Lexicon, Vol. 8, p. 134.” (

Condition: excellent impression with generous margins and in very good condition (i.e. there are tears, stains, holes, folds or foxing, but there are minor handling marks and faint dustiness appropriate to age of the print).

I am selling this large and wonderfully preserved etching that offers an insight into how artists worked in the 17th century for the total cost of AU$242 (currently US$191.40/EUR162.21/GBP146.67 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this rare print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This is such an interesting print as it is one of the rare images from the late 17th century showing an artist’s studio. Of course, this is not ANY studio. It is the painting studio of St Lazarus that Christ miraculously raised from the dead. I must add at this point that I am surprised that this saint was a painter by trade. Fascinating!! I just hope that Luzi was privy to information that biblical records missed sharing.

Looking beyond the fantasy of an artist’s studio ever being as tidy and lavishly appointed as this one, the image shows that artists in the 17th century were fundamentally lazy and sat when working at an easel. Moreover, it shows that artists may have worked on their paintings at an angle rather than “straight on” leading to parallax errors in their paintings.

Perhaps I may be reading far too much into the working practices at the time and so I will shift my focus to a fundamental principle of graphic representation: the traditional way that gold is represented in black and white images.

Dating back to heraldic designs printed in black and white, there was an established formula for representing colours and different metals in a code of lines and dots. In this print for example, the Madonna’s gold halo is represented in dots which is the code for gold. Sadly, Luzi did not quite understand the colour codes properly as he has represented the Madonna’s cloak in lines angled to the right—which is the pattern alignment for purple—whereas he should have used horizontal lines to signify blue—the traditional colour of the Madonna’s cloak.

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