Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Cornelis Bloemaert’s etchings, “Vulcanus” and “Apollo”, c.1677


Cornelis Bloemaert (1603–1692)

“Vulcanus” (upper image) and “Apollo” (lower image), c.1677, from the series of 15 unnumbered plates, “Heroicae virtutis imagines” (Images of heroic deeds) and a series of 4 plates after Pietro da Cortona’s (1597–1669) frescoes in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, published by Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi (1627–1691) in Rome.

Two etchings with engraving on laid paper with margins as published, glued together and stamped with a collector’s ink seal.
Size of the two-sheet glued assemblage: 50.3 x 39.2 cm
Size of upper etching: (sheet) 25.6 x 39.2 cm; (plate) 19.8 x 34.3 cm; (lunette image borderline) 16.4 x 33.4 cm
Size of lower etching: (sheet) 26.5 x 39.2 cm; (plate) 19.7 x 34.4 cm; (lunette image borderline) 16.7 x 33.2 cm

Lettered on both plates below the image borderline (with minor differences): (left) 'Eq. Petrus Beretinus Corton. pinx. Florentiae in aedib. Sereniss. Magni Ducis Hetrur. in camera Iovis”; (centre) “Io. Iacobus de Rubeis formis Romae ad Templ. Pacis cu Priv. S. Pont.” (right) “Cornel. Bloemart sculp.”

The British Museum offers the following description of the upper etching, “Vulcanus” (Hollstein Dutch 75):
“Vulcan seated at centre, resting his head on his left arm, two Cyclops at far left, metalwork at right, smoke and fire in the background, after Pietro da Cortona's lunette in the Sala di Giove of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence”
See also the description of “Vulcanus” at the Rijksmuseum: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.482317

The British Museum offers the following description of the lower etching, “Apollo” (Hollstein Dutch 75):
“Apollo as a young nude male reclining, head turned to the left, holding the lyre in left hand, landscape with trees in the background, after Pietro da Cortona's lunette …”
See also the description of “Apollo” at the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: both prints are crisp impressions and in good condition for their age (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, significant abrasions, stains or foxing) with only minimal signs of handling in terms of minor surface marks. The glued assemblage is skilfully handled by a past collector whose oval seal is stamped towards the centre of the glued sections.

I am selling this very elegant—and very rare—assemblage of prints showing classical Greek gods with their symbolic attributes (e.g. Vulcan with his hammer, anvil, fire tongs, forge/volcano crater and Apollo with his quiver and lyre), for the total cost of AU$239 (currently US$178.29/EUR149.98/GBP131.13 at the time of posting these etchings) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this large and impressive grouping of two important prints by one of the most famous of the 17th century old masters, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Note: In my next post I will be offering the remaining two prints from the same series of four plates.


This print has been sold


What I admire about this pair of prints is how well the figures in the lunette compositions are arranged in space. For instance, in the upper image, “Vulcanus”, the god of fire is shown reclining away from us so that his left foot—rendered with awful foreshortening—seems almost to push against the picture plane. The reason that I point out this small feature is that his foot helps to establish the perception that the lunette shape of the image is actually a three-dimensional hemisphere like a snowdome (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_globe).

This concept of creating a contained three-dimensional space within a transparent form is an underpinning principle of the Roman Baroque style and Pietro da Cortona is a master of this practice. Regarding his compositions for the Palazzo Pitti that Bloemaert reproduces here, the British Museum goes further and proposes that his frescoes “inaugurated a new relationship in art between three-dimensional stuccowork and illusionistic paintings contained within heavy, stuccoed frames” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=128438). 







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