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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Benigno Bossi’s etching with dot-roulette, “Front facing portrait of a young girl wearing a scarf and with her right hand raised to her chin”, 1783

Benigno Bossi (1727–92)
“Front facing portrait of a young girl wearing a scarf and with her right hand raised to her chin” (descriptive title), 1783 (dated in the plate), plate 37 from the series of 49 plates (including the frontispiece and antiporta), “Raccolta di teste inventate, disegnate e incise da B. Bossi” (Transl. “Collection of heads created, drawn, and engraved by Benigno Bossi”), published by Gioachino Bettalli and C Cont.a of Capello (as noted on the frontispiece).

Etching with dot-roulette in the crayon manner printed in sanguine coloured ink on laid paper
Size: (sheet) 12 x 10.4 cm; (plate) 6.6 x 6.8 cm; (image borderline) 5.6 x 6.2 cm
Inscribed: (upper right) “37”; (lower left) “Bossi In. f. 1783”

LeBlanc 64-103; see also 'The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection: Italian and Spanish books, fifteenth through nineteenth centuries', National Gallery of Art, 2000, p.77f.

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with generous margins (varying from 1.5 cm to 2.9 cm) and in marvellous condition with only a few faint marks.

I am selling this small and remarkably sensitive portrait—a true treasure—for the total cost of AU$123 (currently US$97.51/EUR81.92/GBP72.38 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this small masterpiece executed in 1783, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This etching, like the previous Bossi etching (Plate 28) that I discussed a few posts ago, is also a part of his “Raccolta di teste” series of 49 plates. Whereas the previous print was executed midway through his artistic career in 1773, and was interesting to examine from that viewpoint, this print (Plate 37) was executed ten years later and may be viewed as exemplifying his fully matured style.

From my reading of this later print, Bossi no longer employs the same the range of different strokes of his earlier print (viz. squiggles, return strokes and faux bold strokes). Instead, his choice of rendering style is typified by a consistent use of parallel contour lines disposed at the same distance apart from foreground to background. The effect of this treatment lends the appearance of a single artistic vision where the artist’s style is does not change with each subject portrayed, unlike the former print with its range of strokes that are selected according to the “needs” of the subject. In short, Bossi’s style has evolved from a mimetic approach to drawing designed to impress a viewer with technical dexterity to a style where technical considerations is subservient to personal expressive needs. 

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