Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Cornelis Cort’s engraving, “St Onuphrius Penitent in the Wilderness”, 1574


Cornelis Cort (1533–1578)

“St Onuphrius Penitent in the Wilderness”, 1574, from the series, “Six Penitent Saints”, after Girolamo Muziano (aka Brescianino) (1528/1532–1592), published by Bonifazio Breggio (fl.1566–1582?) in Rome with privilege by Gregory XIII.

Engraving on laid paper, trimmed with small margins near the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 51.7 x 38.9 cm; (image borderline) 51.3 x 38.4 cm
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline (lower left) “Corneli cort fe.”; (lower right) PRIVILEGIO.D.GREG.PP.XIII / Hieronimo mucian.inu. 1574".
Based on the silvery aspect of print I presume that this is a state ii (of ii?) impression but, as the important lower border line showing the publication details has been removed I am unable to be sure.

Bierens de Haan 1948 119 (J C J Bierens de Haan 1948, “L'oeuvre gravé de Cornelis Cort, graveur hollandais 1533–1578”, The Hague); New Hollstein Dutch 134-2 (4) (comp. by Manfred Sellink (comp.) & Huigen Leeflang (ed.) 2000, “The new Hollstein : Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450–1700”.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“St Onuphrius penitent in the wilderness; the bearded saint, below right, holds a rosary and looks at a crucifix tied to a tree stump; above him tower trees and a stream trickles by at left; after Muziano.”
See also the description of the print at the Rijksmuseum (http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.98991) and  an excellent discussion about this print by Michael Bury (2001) in “The Print in Italy 1550–1620”, British Museum, London, p. 96.

Condition: slightly silvery impression trimmed with small margins near the image borderline and with a flattened centrefold. The sheet is in very good condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this large engraving showing the saint who is important for Sicilians as they pray to him when they need to find missing items (e.g. keys, phone and wallet) for AU$540 (currently US$435,77/EUR352.53/GBP307.44 at the time of posting this listing). Postage for this print is extra and will be the actual/true cost of shipping.

If you are interested in acquiring this stunningly beautiful and rare etching, 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


This is one of the masterpieces of the 16th century. Like many engravings of that time, however, the composition is built upon the designs of more than a single artist. Certainly the design was originally conceived by Girolamo Muziano, as this artist’s name is inscribed on the plate as the designer, but the resemblance of Muziano’s design to the compositions of Titian is hard to ignore. Indeed, Michael Bury (2001) in “The Print in Italy 1550–1620” makes the interesting point that Muziano developed the type of landscape shown here from compositions by Titian showing “towering trees with blasted branches, dead stumps, mountain streams and precipitous cliffs …” (p. 96).

Following on from Bury’s insights, even the pose of St Onuphrius in the hermit’s gesture of deep spirituality with parted arms as he contemplates the crucifix is not an invention of Muziano or Titian per se, but is a commonly shared and often employed pose of spiritually transcended saintly folk. I should add at this juncture an insight by Bury that what makes this particular composition very special is that St Onuphrius’ dramatic gesture is echoed in the rhythms of his surroundings.








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