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Friday 3 December 2021

Giulio Bonasone’s engraving, “The Birth of John the Baptist”, c1550 after Jacopino del Conte

Giulio Bonasone (1500/10–1574)

“The Birth of John the Baptist” (TIB title), c1550 (1531–1576), after (as proposed by the BM) Jacopino del Conte (1513–1598) or (as proposed by Bartsch/TIB, but less likely) Jacopo da Pontormo (aka Jacopo Carrucci) (1494–1557), published in Rome by Carlo Losi (fl.1757–1805).

Engraving on laid paper with large margins and flattened centrefold.

Size: (sheet) 41.5 x 56.4 cm; (unevenly cut plate) 29.6 x 45.3 cm; (image borderline) 28.7 x 44.9 cm.

Lettered in plate: (lower centre) “Romæ apud Carolum Losi”; (on column pedestal) “IACOBVS/ FLORENTINVS/ IN VENTOR// NATIVITAS / BEATI IOANNIS / BAPTISTÆ// IVLIO B. F.”

State v (of v), with the erasure of previous publishers and the addition of the publication details for Losi.

TIB 28 (15).76 (131) (Suzanne Boorsch & John Spike [eds.] 1985, The Illustrated Bartsch: Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century”, New York, Abaris Books, vol. 28, p. 280, cat. no. 76; vol 28 [comm.], pp. 285–86, cat. no. [2803].076 S5); Cumberland 50 (1793, p. 56); Huber 10 (vol. 3, p. 110); Armano 218 (p. 41); Le Blanc 71 (vol.1, p. 412); Massari 71 (1983, vol. 1, p. 66).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “The Birth of St John the Baptist who is held aloft by the woman at the left, Elizabeth is in the bed, the scene is set against classical architecture” (

Regarding the quandary about the author of the original design of this print, TIB (vol. 28 [comm.], p. 285) proposes that this print “could well preserve a lost composition by Jacopino del Conte”, as it may reproduce “a rejected design by Jacopino from around 1538 for the scene of this subject in the Oratory of S. Giovanni Decollato, Rome.” Interestingly, the rejection of the design may have arisen because of “rivalry between Jacopino and [Francesco] Salviati while they both worked on projects at the Oratorio.” TIB goes on to explain that “Bartsch's misattribution of this design to Pontormo can be traced to a 1731 description by [Pierre] Mariette in a letter to Gaburri” (cited by Giovanni Bottari [1757] in “Raccolta di lettere sulla pittura, scultura ed architettura scritte da'più celebri personaggi che in dette arti fiorirono dal secolo XV. al XVII ..”, vol. 2, p. 231; see

Condition: a well-printed and slightly silvery impression with generously wide margins and a flattened centrefold. The sheet has surface dustiness (mainly visible in the margins) and there seems to be some offsetting of ink within the image on the lower left, otherwise the sheet is in good condition with no significant issues.

I am selling this large old master engraving from a late edition by Carlo Losi showing an episode from the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57–64) in which Zacharias (who has been struck dumb by an angel) is portrayed writing the name of the baby held aloft by the woman at left—for the total cost of AU$327 (currently US$229.04/EUR202.38/GBP173.05 at the time of posting this listing) 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 late impression of a rare engraving exemplifying the period style of Mannerism, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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