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Wednesday 28 April 2021

Giacomo Laurenziani’s etching, “Phalaris Ordering Perillus to Enter the Bronze Bull”, 1634, after Polidoro da Caravaggio

Giacomo Laurenziani (aka Giacomo Laurentiani; Giacomo Lorenziani; Giacommo Laurenziani) (1598–1650)

“Phalaris Ordering Perillus to Enter the Bronze Bull” (aka “Perillus inventor mandante Phalaride primus expertus est”), 1634, after the painting by Polidoro da Caravaggio (aka Polidoro Caldara; Polidoro da Caravagio) (c1499–1543) on a house fascade in the Via dei Coronari, Rome, published by Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi (aka Giovanni Giacomo de' Rossi; Giovanni Jacomo de' Rossi; Jo Jacobus de Rubeis) (1627–1691) in Rome. Note that the British Museum does not hold a copy of this print, but the musuem holds an etching in reverse by an unidentified printmaker after the same composition:

The scene shows the Sicilian tyrant, Phalaris (fl.c.570 BC–549 BC)—"notorious for his cruel punishments” (according to the BM)—ordering Perillus—the inventor of the torture device of the bronze bull he is entering—to have the first experience of being roasted alive inside the bull to demonstrate how his screams from inside the hollow device would sound like a bull bellowing. The claim that the victim’s cries would replicate the sound of a bellowing bull was explained to me when I visited the cavern in which I understand the bronze bull was once installed. At the time I remember my brain overloading with the thought of the reverberating sound inside the cavern along with picturing the belching smoke and steam emitted through the bull’s nostrils… horrible!

Etching on laid paper trimmed close to the platemark and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 25.5 x 24.3 cm; (image borderline) 25.5 x 23.2 cm.

Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (centre) “Perillus inuentor, mandante Phalaride primus expertus est. / Polidorus de Carauagio Prinxit./ Iacobus Laurentianus delineauit et Sculpsit. 1634./ Gio Jacomo Rossi le Stampa alla Pace”; (right) Romæ Superior. Licentia.”

The Casanatense Library and the Central Institute for Graphics offer descriptions of this print:;; along with an image and description of the original printing plate:

Condition: a superb, richly inked and well-printed lifetime impression (based on the quality of the line showing no sign of wear to the printing plate), trimmed close to the platemark and laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper. The sheet has restoration for thinning along the edges, otherwise it is in excellent condition with no significant stains or foxing.

I am selling this very rare etching—mindful that neither the British Museum nor the Rijksmuseum hold a copy of this print—of the visually arresting scene of pending torture in Sicily, for the total cost of AU$283 (currently US$220.40/EUR181.70/GBP158.06 at the time of 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 superb impression of an etching that is very seldom seen on the art market, 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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