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Wednesday 17 June 2020

Giovanni Battista de’ Cavalieri’s etching, “Dionysus with Panther and Satyr”, 1594

Giovanni Battista de’ Cavalieri (aka Joannes Baptista Cavalleris; Giovanni Battista Cavallieri) (c.1525–1601)

“Dionysus with Panther and Satyr” (aka “Bacchus”), 1594, etching after the 2nd century AD Roman marble sculpture, “Dionysus with Panther and Satyr”, in the Palazzo Altemps in Rome, published in Rome as plate 74 in Cavalieri’s “Antiquarum Statuarum Urbis Romae tertius et quartus liber ... Io. Baptista de Caualleriis authore” (this publication may be viewed online or downloaded free-of-charge from

According to Michael Bury (2001) in “The Print in Italy 1550–1620” (British Museum, p. 224), the first book of prints in the series was issued before 1561/2, the second was re-issued with the first before 1584, and books 3 and 4 (in which this print features) were added in 1594.

Etching and engraving with pale plate tone on laid paper with a small margin around the platemark and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 25.4 x 19.5 cm; (plate) 22.1 x 15.6 cm.
Inscribed on plate: (upper right corner) “Bacchus, cu Sileno Colossus miræ/ pulchritudinis. In Palatio Mucij Mat;/ thæi, in Quirinali, ibidem nuper/ repertus.”; (lower right) “74”.

Regarding the subject, Wikipedia offers the following insights:
“The formula, with somewhat exaggerated contrapposto, the god's right hand resting on his head, is based on the Apollo Lyceus, which is variously attributed and dated. This ivy-crowned Dionysus is accompanied by the panther that signalises his numinous presence, and a satyr of reduced size, a member of his retinue. Long locks of his hair fall girlishly over his shoulders and in his left hand he holds a bunch of grapes, emblematic of his status as god of wine” (

Condition: richly inked and strong impression showing the printer’s clumsy wiping of the plate edge at upper-right and traces of plate movement during printing at the upper edge. The sheet is in very good condition (i.e. there are no tears, folds, holes, losses, abrasions, stains or foxing) and is laid upon a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this bold late Renaissance etching exemplifying the Italian leaning at that time towards very direct linework and unapologetic printing—note the poorly wiped plate edges, the surface scratches on the plate and the ink traces of movement in the printing process—for AU$320 (currently US$220.84/EUR196/GBP175.88 at the time of posting this print) 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 visually arresting etching of an equally strong Roman sculpture, 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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