Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Domenico Cunego’s engraving, “Roboam", after Michelangelo, c1802



Domenico Cunego (1727­–1803)

“Roboam", c1802, plate 4 in the series of 8 plates after Michelangelo’s (1475–1564) lunettes in the Sistine Chapel, after the drawing by Vincenzo Dolcibeni (aka Vincentius Dolcibene) (fl.1782–1807), published in c.1805 by Calcografia Romana (1738–1870), Rome.

Engraving on heavy laid paper with wide margins lined with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 53.9 x 70.8 cm; (plate) 39.6 x 53 cm; (image borderline) 35.1 x 49.4 cm
Numbered on plate above the image borderline: “IV”
Lettered on plate within the image borderline: (upper left) “MICHAEL ANGELVS BONAROTIVS PINXIT”; (upper right) “IN SIXTINO VATICANO SACELLO”; (lower centre) “ROBOAM”
Letter on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Vincentius Dolcibene del.” (centre) “PIO SEPTIMO PONT OPT. MAX. /  Roma Presso la Calcografia Camerale"; (right) “Dom. Cunego sculp. Romae”

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Roboam, after the fresco by Michelangelo in a lunette of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. c.1805”

Condition: crisp impression in near faultless condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, stains, or foxing with minor signs of handling at the top edge).  The sheet has been laid on an archival support sheet.

I am selling this huge engraving in magnificent condition for AU$210 (currently US$149.54/EUR129.65/GBP114.59 at the time of this listing). Postage for this print is extra and will be the actual/true cost of shipping.

If you are interested in purchasing this superb engraving exemplifying the discipline and technical control of the finest engravers, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


I am really out of my depth in discussing the meaning of this image but I hope that I am correct (forgive me if I am wrong) in saying that the figures are Christ’s ancestors in terms of the verse where the figure, “Roboam”, is mentioned in Matthew 1:7 “And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia …”

Regarding Cunego’s enormous engraving—I recommend stretching out your hands to 70 cm to understand that this is a big print!—the technical skill is of the highest order, in the sense disciplined control of the burin with exceptionally fine lines employed to render the form of the figures. Nevertheless, at the time that the print and the others in the same series were executed they were not held in such high esteem. Indeed William Hendry Stowell (1811) in the essay “Duppa’s Life of Michel Angelo” in “The Ecletic Review, Volume 14, Part 2” offers the following insightful and very cutting analysis of Cunego’s engravings:

“The prints which are now in course of publication are more mechanical productions, feeble and dry; tolerable specimens, it may be of the engraver’s skill in the use of his tools and the production of his line to an almost insensitive point, but too spiritless, unfeeling, and elaborate to afford an adequate translation of the fire, the character, the soul of the immortal genius whose fame they are designed to extend” (p. 10880).







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