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Friday 17 November 2023

Unidentified printmaker’s woodcut from the circle of Bolognino Zaltieri, “The Typhon Dragon”, c.1581

Unidentified printmaker from the circle of the printer/publisher, Bolognino Zaltieri (fl.1555–1576)

Note that in the introduction to the publication in which this print features, the author, Vincenzo Cartari (1531–?), mentions Bolognino Zaltieri: (transl.) “…without any doubt the beautiful, well-arranged figures [that] adorns [the book] will make it more beautiful to look at. Bolognino Zaltieri, a man who is diligent in matters of the press, as faithful as others …”. This reference may be to Zaltieri’s role as a printer and editor rather than as a printmaker.

“The Typhon Dragon”, c.1581, illustration on page 367 to Vincenzo Cartari’s “The Images of the Gods of the Ancients” (aka “Le imagini de i dei de gli antichi : nelle qvali si contengono gl'idoli, riti, ceremonie, & altre cose appartenenti alla religione de gli antichi, raccolte dal sig. Vincenzo Cartari, con la loro espositione, & con bellissime & accommodate figure nouamente ristampate. Et con esserui citati i luoci de gli auttori stessi di donde molte cose sono cauate con molta diligenza riuiste e ricorrette” [The images of the gods of the ancients: these contain the idols, rites, ceremonies, & other things belonging to the religion of the ancients, collected by Mr. Vincenzo Cartari, with their exhibition, & with beautiful & accommodated figures newly reprinted. And by citing the works of the authors themselves, many things have been carefully resolved and corrected with great diligence.]), published in Lyon by (or following on from) Bastiano di Bartholomeo Honorati (fl.1556?), with royal privilege in 1581. offers and online view of this print in its context in this publication:

The accompanying Italian text describes the Typhon Dragon as follows: (translation of the text on pages 366 and 368—my apologies for any errors) “The fables of Typhon, as Apollodorus says, were that he was born of the Earth in revenge for the Giants killed by the Gods of the sky. He was of two natures, human and bestial. Hence Plato likewise in the Phaedrus calls him a beast of many natures, ardent and furious: and he surpasses in size of body and strength those who had ever been born on earth. The one above was in the form of a man completely covered in feathers, so large and tall that he went over all the highest mountains and often touched the stars with his head. and stretching out his arms, he reached with one hand to the West, and with the other to the East, and from his, and from this, a hundred Serpents withered, holding their heads forward. The legs were snakes, which had others around them, which went coiling up the terrible body so much so that they reached the high head, which covered hideous and squalid hairs, which hung down from the neck, and from the shoulders: and such and also the beard, which descended from the large chin onto the broad chest: the eyes were terrible, and sparkled as if they were made of fire, and the large mouth poured out equally ardent flames.”

Note that Natale Conti’s (1520–1582) “Mythologies” (aka “Mythologie, c'est à dire explication des fables contenant les genealogies des dieux, les cerimonies de leurs sacrifices, leurs gestes, advantures, amours: et presque tous les preceptes de la Philosophie naturelle et moralle, …” [“Mythology, that is to say explanation of the fables containing the genealogies of the gods, the ceremonies of their sacrifices, their gestures, adventures, loves: and almost all the precepts of natural and moral philosophy,…]”), translated to French by Jean de Montlyard (fl.1580–1622) and initially published (illustrated) in Lyon by Chez Paul Frellon in 1612 used illustrations similar to those found in Cartari’s publication, but (as yet) I have not been able to establish whether this particular plate was used.

Woodcut on laid paper with small margins around the image borderline, recto printed with letterpress text, backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 13.8 x 10.2 cm; (image borderline) 13.2 x 9.6 cm.

Condition: a well-printed but slightly grey impression, trimmed around the image borderline and laid onto a support of archival (millennium quality) washi paper providing wide margins. Beyond text verso partly shining through, the sheet is in an excellent condition with no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing.

I am selling this curiously marvellous representation from the 1500s of a typhon personified as a dragon—a beast larger than the mountains completely covered in feathers with coiling snakes as its tail and flames spilling from its mouth—for AU$253 (currently US$169.11/EUR153.01GBP134.69 at the time of posting this listing) including Express Mail 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 amazing Typhon monster, 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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