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Sunday 10 May 2020

Diana Scultori’s engraving, “The Continence of Scipio”, 1575–88

Diana Scultori (aka Diana Ghisi; Diana Mantovana) (1536–88)

“The Continence of Scipio” (aka “Scipio Returns his Wife to Hallucio”; “Scipion l'Africain faisant rendre à son mari une femme captive” [Scipio the African making captive wife return to her husband]), 1575–88 (the attribution of these dates is based on the time when Scultori first began to sign her name “Diana”), arguably after Giulio Romano’s (aka Giulio Giannuzzi; Giulio Pippi) (1499–1546) modello chalk drawing in the Städelsches Kunstinstitut ( and preparatory ink drawing in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana ( for the fresco of a medallion in the Sala di Cesare, Palazzo del Te, Mantua.

Note: Paolo Bellini (1991) in "L'opera incisa di Adamo e Diana Scultori" argues that the two drawings by Romano cited above could not be studies underpinning the design of Scultori's engraving as there are details shown in the print that match those in the painting but they are not found in the drawings (see page 172).

Engraving on laid paper trimmed with a thread margin around the image borderline.
Size: (sheet) 20.3 x 25.1 cm; (image borderline) 20.1 x 25 cm.
Inscribed on plate: (on cartouche at lower left) “LIBERALITATIS ET / CONTINENTIAE / EXEMPLVM”; (on entablature at upper centre) “DIA/ NA”; (on cornice at upper right) “IVLIVS RO INVE”.
State ii (of ii) with the addition of the inscription to the cartouche at lower left.

TIB 31 (15). 33 (446) (Suzanne Boorsch & John Spike [Eds.] 1986, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Italian Artists of the Sixteenth Century”, vol. 31, New York, Abaris Books, p. 273); Bartsch XV.446.33; Bellini 1991 8.11 (Paolo Bellini 1991, "L'opera incisa di Adamo e Diana Scultori", Milan, Neri Pozza Editore, pp 171–74).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The continence of Scipio who is seated at the left, before him kneels and imploring male figures accompanied by many soldiers, after Giulio Romano”

This engraving illustrates the passage from Titus Livius’ (Livy), “The History of Rome”, Book 26, chapter 26, versus 1–8, in which the Roman Proconsul, Scipio Africanus—the male figure with his back to us on the Curule seat—curtails his lust for the extraordinarily beautiful slave girl on the left after hearing that she was betrothed toa leading man of the Celtiberians”, Allucis—the figure kneeling—and gives his consent to their marriage to the surprise and acclaim of guests: “I favour what is in my power—your love”.

Condition: strong impression trimmed with a narrow margin around the image borderline in very good condition for the considerable age of the print. The sheet is lightly age-toned and has a few areas with minor staining (e.g. the cartouche at lower left). There are also remnants of mounting and notations in pencil and ink verso.

I am selling this exceptionally rare print by one of the historically significant women printmakers from the Renaissance (arguably the first person to copyright the design for a cap … admittedly a night cap) for AU$415 (currently US$271.15/EUR250.06/GBP218.53 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this Renaissance period engraving, 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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