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Wednesday 1 July 2020

Antonio Tempesta’s etching, “Great Bison”, c.1620

Antonio Tempesta (1555?–1630)

“Great Bison” (aka “Bisons magnus/Bisonte grando”), c.1620, first state unnumbered impression from the series of 206 plates, "Nova raccolta animali piu curiosi del mondo" (aka “Animals and mythical creatures”), possibly published in Rome by Giovanni Giacomo de'Rossi (1627–1691) in or before 1650 (arguably with papal privilege from Pope Innocent X).

Etching and engraving on fine laid paper with an unevenly trimmed narrow margin around the plate mark.
Size: (sheet) 19.5 x 14.1 cm; (plate) 9.7 x 13.8 cm; (image borderline) 9 x 13.6 cm.
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Bisons magnus”; (right) “Bisonte grando”
State i (of ii) before the addition of the plate number.

Note: this is a rare print that is not held in the collection of either the British Museum or the Rijksmuseum, but the Rijksmuseum holds the two other etchings of bisons from the same series:
“Bisons/Bisonte” (aka Crested Bison) (
“Bisont/Bisone” (aka Locobardus Bison) (

In earlier posts I have showcased a few other etchings by Tempesta of animals that one doesn’t often see. For example, in one of his animal prints Tempesta featured a hippopotamus cleverly disguised as a beaver (see In another, he shared his fantasy by portraying a half dog and half goat having a wonderful time leaping around while being watched by a two-headed, six legged donkey (see

Condition: richly inked and well-printed impression trimmed unevenly with a narrow margin around the plate mark. The sheet is in superb condition for its considerable age with remnants of old mounting verso and minor staining.

I am selling this rare lifetime impression of Europe’s Great Bison—I understand that this bison has 14 ribs whereas the American bison has 15 ribs—for AU$286 in total (currently US$197.64/EUR175.96/GBP159.58 at the time of posting 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 purchasing this remarkable print featuring in the distant background a grim scene of a horse and rider attacked by a bison, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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