Tuesday, 1 October 2019
Raffaello Schiaminossi’s etching, “Plate 26” (Italian Rapier Combat), 1610
Raffaello Schiaminossi (aka Raffaello Schiaminossi) (1572–1622)
“Plate 26”, 1610, from the series of forty-three plates illustrating Ridolfo Capo Ferro’s instructional manual on fencing (Italian rapier combat), “Gran simulacro dell'arte e dell'uso della scherma”, published in Siena in 1610.
Etching on fine laid paper with full margins and letterpress text printed verso (visible recto) as published, backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 20.5 x 27.8 cm; (plate) 14.5 x 23.2 cm; (image borderline) 14.3 x 23 cm
Inscribed on plate: (upper left corner) “26”; (lower left corner) “D/ [artist’s monogram]. F.”; (lower right corner) “C”.
Although this particular lesson conducted in the nude may be perceived as leaning towards the “tough love” style of teaching, I understand that the artist, Raffaello Schiaminossi, had a sense of humour—albeit a rather macabre one—and this disposition to shameful humour may help to explain the grim lesson portrayed. Regarding the artist’s humour, an obituary written one of his best friends, Teofilo Torri advises: “homo molto spirituale et spiritoso tanto nel dipingere come nel intaglio d'acquaforte si come si vede de sue molte carte...” ([transl.] “he is very spiritual and witty both in painting and in etching, as we can see from his many prints…”. (See the British Museum’s biography for Schiaminossi:
Interestingly, this fencing manual was very influential in its time and the manual must still be influential as it has been republished by Greenhill Books/Stackpole Books in 2004. This recent reprint of the original plates and text (fortunately translated into English) is described with the following excellent account (of which this is an extract):
“The manual, illustrated with 43 striking illustrations, gives a very real flavour of the panache of this expert in swordsmanship and mastery of that most lethal of weapons—the rapier. Ferro examines different kinds of swords, their component parts and their suitability, before going on to discuss their actual use. There he expounds his theory as to the timing and direction of thrusts, the essential distances and the need for complete control. He also looks at defensive measures, guards, parries, the need for quick footwork. Capo Ferro's text is a practical guide to fighting and one which builds on the theory to show exactly how a superior form of swordsmanship could be learned by Europe's elite. His illustrations clearly show the best methods and also show how a rapier could be lethally effective when used with a dagger or with a cloak” (see
Condition: a well-printed, strong impression with full margins and letterpress text as published (verso), laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper. The text printed verso is visible recto in the image as the paper is fine—almost tissue thin. The upper corners of the margins are restored and there are signs of handling (light grubbiness) in the lower margin, otherwise the sheet is in good condition for its considerable age.
I am selling this unforgettably graphic image of a fencing/rapier lesson being conducted in the nude for AU$330 (currently US$221.12/EUR202.70/GBP179.70 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).
If you are interested in acquiring this exceptionally rare etching from an important and unusual instructional manual, please contact me (email@example.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.