Wednesday, 22 November 2017

(attrib.) Giovanni Cesare Testa’s etching, “Otio and Poverta”, c1700, after an ink drawing by Pietro Testa


(Attrib.) Giovanni Cesare Testa (c1630–1655) previously attributed to Nicolo Billy (fl.1700)
“Otio and Poverta” (aka “Two figures representing Sloth and Poverty”), c1650–c1750, after a pen and brown ink drawing (c1639) by Pietro Testa (1611/12–1650) held in the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf (Graphische Sammlung, Notebook [Budde 132] folio 9 recto).

Etching on laid paper with small margins lined upon a washi support sheet and remargined/cradled with archival laid paper.
Size: (remargined sheet) 26.9 x 32.2 cm; (sheet) 12.8 x 18.5 cm; (plate) 11.9 x 17.2 cm
Inscribed on the plate: (lower left) “PTesta deline.” and “Otio”; (lower right) “Pouerta”

Speciale 27.21 ii/ii (Onofrio Speciale 1977, “Pietro Testa nei rami della Calcografia”, Rome, p. 27, cat.no. 21); Rijksmuseum no. RP-P-OB-35,392; The Met no. 51.501.4282; see also a reproduction of Testa’s original pen and ink drawing in Elizabeth Cropper’s 1988, “Pietro Testa 1612–1659: Prints and Drawings”, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, p, 78.

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“On the left a naked woman (Otio), lying against pig. On the right a seated naked man (Poverta)” (http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.80666)

Condition: a near faultless impression in excellent condition (apart from a few light dot stains towards the lower left) laid upon a support sheet and remargined

I am selling this rare etching from the late 1600s to early 1700s exemplifying the fine art of translating a pen and ink drawing into an original etching for an early publication showcasing the work of Testa upon his death, for AU$412 (currently US$311.65/EUR265.02/GBP235.34 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this exceptionally rare etching—so rare in fact that apart from the impression held by the Rijksmuseum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art I have never seen another copy—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


Painting, prints and drawings by Pietro Testa were in high demand during his lifetime and, not surprisingly, when he died in 1650 dealers sought to continue satisfying this demand by having his drawings reproduced as prints. This etching is a marvellous example.

Interestingly, one of the writers of the time, Filippo Baldinucci (1681–1728), made the observation that ALL of Testa’s notebook sketches were reproduced into prints (see F Ranalli (ed.) 1974 reprint of Baldinucci’s “Notizie dei  professori del disegno da Cimabuie in qua …”, vol. 5). Even if this is an exaggeration—which undoubtedly it is as only six “schizzi” (the term for sketches translated into etchings) seem to have been documented—the point that there was a great demand by the public to have reproductions of Testa’s drawings is worth noting. (See Elizabeth Cropper’s 1988, “Pietro Testa 1612–1650” exh. cat., pp.75–6, for an insightful account about the reproduction of Testa’s drawings into prints at the time.)

There is, of course, a huge difference between a dreadful copy and a superb one and the difference is all about how well the reproductive printmaker is able to translate fluid pen and ink strokes into the medium of an etching. 





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