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Sunday 31 December 2017

Paolo Fidanza’s etching, “Life-size study of a head from Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’”, 1785

Paolo Fidanza (fl.1731–1785)

“Life-size study of a head from Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’” (descriptive title only), 1785, plate 14 in a series of 90 plates published by Bouchard & Gravier (fl.1750–89) in Volume 1 (of 2) of “Recueil De Têtes Choisies De Personnages Illustres Dans Les Lettres Et Dans Les Armes Exactement Dessinées Et Gravées De La Grandeur Des Originaux Par Paul Fidanza Peintre Romain D'Après Les Peintures De Raphaël D'Urbin Et Autres Grands Maîtres Existantes Au Vatican Et Dans Plusieurs galeries De Rome Ouvrage Contenant CLXXXX. Planches Tom. I. (II.)”

Etching on laid paper with full margins and centre crease (flattened) as published.
Size: (sheet) 35.4 x 46 cm; (plate) 26.8 x 37.3 cm
Inscribed on the plate: (upper left) “Tom I”; (upper right) “14”; (lower edge) “Testa incognita, che si vede frà Discepoli d’Archimede attenti alle Dimostrazioni Geometriche nella Scuola d’Atene. Di Rafaelle d’Urbino nel Palazzo Vaticano. Polo Fidanza del. ed inc.” (Gooble Transl. “Head incognita, which can be seen among Disciples of the Archimedes attentive to the Geometric Demonstrations in the School of Athens. Rafaelle d'Urbino in the Vatican Palace.”
Lifetime impression as published in 1785.

See The Royal Academy for a description of the volume in which this etching features:

Condition: crisp and well-inked impression in excellent/near pristine condition (i.e. there are no significant tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing, but there is a fine line from the original centre fold, which is now flattened and virtually invisible, and two specks of white in the printing have been restored).

I am selling this rare and large etching (note that it does not feature in any of the major museum online repositories) for the total cost of AU$172 (currently US$134.46/EUR112.03/GBP99.58 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

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

This print has been sold

By design, Fidanza planned this print to be the same size as one of the heads of the “discepoli d’Archimede” (disciples of Archimedes) from Raphael’s fresco, “Scuola di Atene” (The School of Athens), 1509–11. According to an earlier account of the process used by Fidanza published by “A Society of Gentlemen” in February 3, 1757 (see W Simpkin and R Marshall, “The Critical Review: Or, Annals of Literature, Volume 3”, p. 174), Fidanza’s approach to making copies was to oil a sheet of paper so that I would become transparent and to then use this transparent paper to trace a copy directly from the original. Heavens to Betsy! … No wonder the old frescoes have darken with time if they had oily copy sheets placed on them!

After comparing the original with the etching, however, I doubt very much that this process of tracing directly from the original actually happened as the etched image is not an exact copy of the Raphael’s original design at all. 

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