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Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Karl Audran’s engraving, “Allegory of the birth of Maffeo Barberini, later Pope Urban VIII”, c1630, after Andrea Sacchi

Karl Audran (aka Charles Audran; Karol Audran; Karolus Audran) (1594–1674)

“Allegory of the birth of Maffeo Barberini, later Pope Urban VIII” (aka “Education of Jupiter with the Barberini family's coat of arms”), c1630 , after Andrea Sacchi’s (c1599–1661) preparatory red chalk and wash drawing (see https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/andrea-sacchi-nettuno-1599-1661-rome-allegory-of-6055755-details.aspx) and Sacchi’s final red chalk design (Mathias Polakovits collection) in which the goat (Amalthea) suckling the baby (Jupiter) is replaced with greater emphasis on the swarm of bees (the Barberini family's heraldic symbol), initially published in Rome by Aloisio Neri (fl.1630) and later by Vincenzo Billy (aka Vincenzo Billi; Vincenzo Belli) (early 1700s) also in Rome. This impression is from the Vincenzo Billy edition.

Interestingly, the copy of this print held by the British Museum (inv. no. 1941,1204.23) is described by the Curator as “a later state” than the copy illustrated in Ann Sutherland Harris’ catalogue of the works of Sacchi (cat. 84). This would mean that the copy shown here is an even later state, because the banderole held by the putti in the sky at upper right has traces of the erased banner with the coat of arms featuring the Barberini bees of Cardinal Francesco Barberini (nephew of Pope Urban VIII) featured in the British Museum’s copy. I presume that coat of arms originally held by the putti was deemed inappropriate resulting in its erasure and its replacement with the banderole.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:

“An allegory on the birth of Urban VIII, which is compared to that of Zeus, nursed by the nymphs Adrasteia and Io, and that of the poet Pindar (see Philostratus, Imagines II 12); the infant is lying at left, attended by two nymphs; a swarm of bees, the symbol of the Barberini family, is flying towards him; on the right, four men dancing and playing music. c.1630”

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1941-1204-23.

Engraving on laid paper with a small margin and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 31.8 x 41.8 cm; (plate) 31.2 x 41.1 cm; (image borderline) 30.8 x 40.6 cm).

Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (lower left) “Vincent. Billy Formis Roma”; (lower left of centre) “Andreas Sacchj Romanus Inuentor”; (lower right of centre) “Karol [?] Audran Paris. Fecit Romae”.

IFF 154 (Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes 1939–, “Inventaire du Fonds Français: Graveurs du XVIIe Siècle”, vol. 1, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, p. 184, cat. no. 154); Le Blanc 318 (Charles Le Blanc 1854–1888, “Manuel de l'amateur d'estampes: contenant le dictionnaire des graveurs de toutes les nations”).

See also the description of this print offered by the Rijksmuseum:

http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.72819.

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression with a small margin around the platemark and laid onto an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper. Beyond a closed tear on the lower edge and a minor chip to the margin at upper right the sheet is in excellent condition with no holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing.

I am selling this large engraving executed by the “founder of the Audran dynasty” and Herman van Swanevelt’s house mate, for $277 in total (currently US$196.26/EUR168.27/GBP151.67 at the time of posting this listing) including Express Mail (EMS) 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 allegory about the birth of Maffeo Barberini who was later to become Pope Urban VIII—a significant patron of the arts at the time and who I understand excommunicated smokers, engaged in grand scale nepotism and took the astronomer Galileo to court for not recanting his belief in Copernican heliocentrism (viz. that the earth revolved around the sun amongst other principles)—please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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