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Sunday 12 November 2017

Enea Vico’s engraving, “Candlestick with a Faun and a Bacchante”, 1552

Enea Vico (1523–1567)

Note: TIB lists this print (30.493-Copy [368]) as a copy after the original print by Enea Vico (30.494 [368]), but current opinion has reversed the attribution and this print is now viewed to be the original and the print catalogued by Bartsch as the original is now viewed as the copy. See the curator of the BM’s comment for the candlestick BM no. Nn,7.16.6.

“Candlestick with a Faun and a Bacchante”, 1552, plate 4 from a series of four designs for candlesticks (Note that there is actually five designs in the series but the fifth plate is unnumbered but bears the publisher’s Salamanca's address (see BM no. 1873,0111.68)

Engraving on laid paper (with water mark) trimmed along the image borderline
Size: (sheet) 25.1 x 17.8 cm
Hand-inscribed in brown ink at lower-right corner: “4” (Note: I suspect that the hand inscription is to “replace” the missing plate number where the sheet has been damaged)

Berlin 1939 1126 (under Vico) (P Jessen 1939, “Katalog der Ornamentstichsammlung der Staatlichen Kunstbibliothek Berlin”, Berlin); Guilmard 1880/1 289.24 (under Vico) (Désiré Guilmard 1801, “Les Maitres Ornemanistes: Écoles Française, Italienne, Allemande et des Pays-Bas (Flamande et Hollandaise)”, Paris, E Pron et Cie); TIB 30.493-Copy (368]) (John Spike & Walter L Strauss [Eds.] 1985, “The Illustrated Bartsch:Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century [Enea Vico]”, New York, Abaris Books, p. 330); Bartsch XV.368.494 (as copy after Vico) (Adam Bartsch 1803, “Le Peintre graveur”, 21 vols, Vienna)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Plate 4: candlestick decorated with mascarons and, below, a figurative scene representing a youth and a bacchante playing music. 1552 Engraving”

Condition: an exceptionally rare early impression (based on the lack of wear to the plate) trimmed along the image borderline. The upper and lower right corners are missing and have been restored. The sheet shows signs age toning appropriate to a print that is close to 500 years old. There may be areas of light abrasion but the tonal unevenness in the image—especially in the treatment of the background—is very similar to the unevenness exhibited in the copy reproduced in TIB (1985) p. 330.There are pencil notations, two collectors’ ink stamps and remnants of mounting hinges (verso).

I am selling this Renaissance period engraving that has excited many contemporary scholars to verify who the real master is that executed it—currently the argument and evidence points to one of the truly great masters, Enea Vico—for AU$349 (currently US$267.64/EUR229.65/GBP202.94 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this finely executed engraving that embodies the spirit of the Renaissance in the use line and subject portrayed, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Sometimes the gate-keepers of history change their minds about the attribution on artworks. This is certainly the case with this elegant engraving of a candlestick holder. What makes it “special” in terms of a change in attribution is that the evidence is simply that the line-work is too good to be a copy of an engraving by the great Renaissance master, Enea Vico. As a corollary, what was once considered to be the original engraving by Vico of the candlestick holder is now relegated to being the copy of this print. The reason: the exhibited line-work in the former “original” Vico is too perfunctory to be by the hand of the master. Fascinating!

(The curator of the British Museum outlines the dispute with appropriate citations in reference to another candlestick holder from the same series:,7.16.6&page=1)

If I may contribute my own thoughts regarding the attribution, I agree with the scholars who believe that this is the original Vico, but my reason is slightly different to the inherent quality of the draughtsmanship. Based on the convention that arose during the Renaissance period of portraying subjects lit from the top-front-left and that engraved plates were based on preliminary drawn studies, the engraving which to my mind is likely to be the original is the one that is a mirror image of the lighting convention because the printing process “reverses” images: this print.

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