Florence – Uffizi Gallery – Engravings

A LARGE door next the entrance to the small corridor opens on a flight of stairs, leading to the passage which connects the Uffizi with the Pitti. A considerable part of this passage is hung with a selection from the valuable collection of engravings belonging to the Gallery. On a landing of the stair-case is a woodcut of immense size representing the Deposition from the Cross, after a picture by Alessandro Casolani, of Sienna (1552-1606). The engraving is by Andrea Andreani of Mantua (1540-1623), a much later date than the earliest wood-cuts in Germany which belong to the end of the thirteenth century. Andreani was both a painter and engraver, but he is best known for his skill in woodcutting, which he had learnt from Ugo da Carpi, a Roman, born about 1486, who introduced the art into Italy. Andreani brought it to higher perfection than his master. The effect was produced by a succession of blocks, a method invented by Carpi. The work of Andreani has been described as ‘correct in drawing, neat and spirited in execution, and masterly in style. Besides working from his own compositions, he sometimes procured blocks cut by other artists, which he retouched and published as his own. Below the Deposition is another woodcut by Andreani of the Sacrifice of Abraham by Beccafumi of Sienna.

In the room at the foot of the stairs, frames Nos. 4 to 18 contain very fine Venetian woodcuts after Titian by Nicolo Boldrini, who was born at Vicenza 1510, and was another pupil of Ugo da Carpi. His works are very scarce. Those exhibited here consist principally of processions, which extend nearly the whole length of the room, and include a multitude of figures, drawn in clear, sharp outline, and full of life and spirit. The subjects are the Triumph of Faith, the Grand Turk going to Mosque, and the entrance of the Emperor Charles V. into Bologna.

On the wall opposite the staircase, in frame No. 24, is a woodcut by Ugo da Carpi, after Raffaelle, of .Aeneas carrying his father Anchises and the Palladium, followed by his son. According to Bryan, `Though slight, Ugo’s woodcuts are excellent, and exhibit a close resemblance to the designs of the artists from which they are taken.”

No. 25, St. John Preaching in the Wilderness, is also by Ugo da Carpi, as well as No. 26, the Miraculous Draught of Fishes. The Martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul in the same frame, with St. John in the Wilderness, is from a design by Parmiggiano, engraved by Antonio da Trento, who flourished from 1530 to 1545. Born at Trent, he studied under Parmiggiano, but learnt his art of engraving from Ugo da Carpi. He generally used three blocks, the first for the outline, the second for the dark shadows, and the third for the half-tints.’

No. 29, near the window, Ananias and Sapphira, is by Ugo da Carpi.

Several engravings after the works of Parmigiano follow, by Nicolo Boldrini, called Il Vicentino ; and in the farthest corner of the same wall is the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, by Raffaelle, engraved by Parmigiano himself.

The next room contains impressions taken from plates of niello, and early copper-plate engravings in Italy. The art of niello already known to the ancients, was revived in Italy by Maso Finiguerra, a Florentine of the fifteenth century. The design was traced upon a silver plate, and the lines cut with a sharp tool ; after which the interstices were filled in with a mixture of melted lead and silver ; before this hardened, impressions were made on paper to try the effect, and thus led the way to the discovery of copper and steel engraving.

In frame No. 44 are impressions from a niello, by Peregrino da Cesio, or Cesena, a goldsmith and engraver, who lived towards the latter part of the fifteenth, and commencement of the sixteenth century.

No. 45 is a very rare engraving after a composition by Botticelli, the Planet Venus, by Baccio Baldini, a Florentine goldsmith, born about 1436. This is one of a series of the Seven Planets, of which there is a complete set in the British Museum, and in the Bibliothèque at Paris. Cupid’s Vintage, in the same frame, is also a scarce Italian engraving.

On the wall facing the entrance to this room is No. 47, the Death of Goliath, also by Baccio Baldini and Botticelli. This engraving was known to Bartsch, the writer on the art of engraving, and is valuable from its rarity. Baldini was a Florentine goldsmith, the friend of Botticelli. Four Prophets, by Baldini, after Botticelli, belong to a series. The initials A. B. have caused this engraving to be attributed to Botticelli, who, however, always signed with the initials of his real name, Alessandro Filipepi.

The impressions taken from niello, the invention of Maso Finiguerra, were speedily followed by copper plates, in which the artist’s attention was directed to the effect produced .by the impressions, instead of, as in niello engraving, considering the impressions only as experiments to test the excellence of the design.

No. 48, a Combat of Giants, is a splendid composition by Antonio Pollajolo.

From Nos. 49 to 60 on the upper line, are frames containing fifty engravings of the so-called Playing Cards, generally attributed to Andrea Mantegna (1430–1506) ; they form here a complete set, but as they were not fastened on card, they could never have been used as a game.

No. 5o is an unfinished engraving, also by Andrea Mantegna, of the Holy Family in a grotto, surrounded by a choir of angels. It is an early impression, and almost unique. The artist adopted this composition for part of his picture of the Worship of the Magi, now in the Tribune of the Uffizi Gallery. Below this engraving is a Bacchanalian scene by Mantegna.

No. 56, three female figures dancing, after the design for a picture by Mantegna, in the Louvre at Paris, by Zoan Andrea, the assumed name of an engraver, who signed his plates Z. A., probably a corruption of Gian Andrea, in the Venetian dialect. He lived in the early part of the sixteenth century, and appears to have belonged to the Lombard School of engraving.

No. 57, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, after Mantegna, is also by Zoan Andrea.

No. 53, a large engraving by Botticelli, of the Assumption of the Virgin. She gives her girdle to St. Thomas ; the Apostles below seek for her in the tomb, from whence she has newly risen ; a Landscape background completes the picture ; this engraving is very scarce, as there are only four impressions known to exist.

No. 59, the Calumny of Apells, by Mocetto of Verona (1454– ? ), is taken from the description by Lucian, and interesting to compare with the same subject, by Botticelli, in the room of small Tuscan pictures of this gallery. Midas is between Ignorance and Suspicion ; Calumny, led by Envy, drags along Innocence ; she is attended by Ambition and Fraud ; Repentance with Truth follow last.

No. 70, the Worship of the Magi, by Robetta, a Florentine, born about 1460. His prints are scarce ; this engraving is after the design of Filippino Lippi, for his large picture painted in 1496, and now in this Gallery.

Descending a flight of steps, we arrive at the commencement of the passage leading to the Pitti. The names of the engravers, or schools of engraving, whose works are exhibited on the walls, are painted in large letters the whole length of the room, and the engravings are admirably arranged for purposes of study. They begin with a splendid collection by Marc Antonio, chiefly from the designs by Raffaelle.

Marc Antonio Raimondo, one of the most eminent of Italian engravers, was born in Bologna, 1488. He studied under Francia, and probably also took lessons in the goldsmith’s art. Meeting with engravings of Albert Dürer, he not only copied them accurately, but added his own monogram, thus completely deceiving the public. Durer complained, and Marc Antonio was forbidden in future to use this plagiarism. The study, however, had been useful to him in his art, and after working some time in Venice, he proceeded to Rome, where Raffaelle soon discovered his rare merits, and employed him to engrave from his designs. According to Bryan, `The purity of his outlines, the beautiful character and expression of his heads, and the correct drawing of the extremities, establish his merit as a perfect master of design.

His first plate after Raffaelle was the Death of Lucretia, which is exhibited here, No. 76 ; but his next, the Judgment of Paris, No. 82, is infinitely superior, and shows greater boldness of hand. Raffaelle sent several of Marc Antonio’s engravings as a present to Albert Dürer, who had so entirely forgiven the first offence of the young artist, as to express his admiration of his work.

To return to the beginning of the prints, as they are hung on this wall : No. 75 contains a Deposition from the Cross, after Raffaelle, and Paul Preaching at Athens.

No. 79, Mary Magdalene, conducted by Martha to the Saviour, who is seated on a throne ; above is the Magdalene Washing the Feet of the Saviour.

No. 8o, the Murder of the Innocents; there are two engravings of this beautiful composition by Raffaelle ; that with the fir tree on the right near the margin is the finest. Marc Antonio is said to have been assassinated by a Bolognese noble, for having engraved the second plate of this subject, contrary to an engagement he had entered into with him. In the same frame with the Murder of the Innocents is the Madonna of the Cradle and the Madonna of the Palm Tree.

No. 81, the Mater Dolorosa : Mary stands behind the body of the Saviour and looks up to heaven; the sleeve of the right arm fits so closely that, though the edge is marked at the wrist, the arm has been often supposed bare.’ Passavant considered this engraving, in tenderness, delicacy of feeling, and in the noble expression of the heads, to surpass all he knew of Marc Antonio. Below it, is the Last Supper : Christ in the centre, and six disciples on either side.

No. 78, the Eternal, commanding Noah to build the Ark, and the Madonna of the Coscia Lunga : the Virgin sits near a cradle, with the Infant Christ in her lap, near them kneels the little St. John with a strip of parchment in his hand ; Joseph behind ; a young man is seen to the right in the background. In this same frame is St. Cecilia, which differs in details from Raffaelle’s picture at Bologna.

No. 87, on the wall in the corner near the window, is part of the history of Psyche, painted by Raffaelle, when he assisted Giulio Romano in the frescoes of the Farnesina Palace at Rome. The Flying Mercury to the right is full of life and movement.

No. 92 contains Adam and Eve, engraved by Marc Antonio, after Michael Angelo, and an interesting portrait of Raffaelle in his studio ; he has no beard, his hair hangs on his shoulders, and he wears a cap and mantle thrown across his chest. Besides these, this frame contains the Eternal appearing to Isaac and the Sacrifice of Noah, by Marco of Ravenna. Marco Dente da Ravenna, born in 1496, went to Rome to study under Marc Antonio, and imitated the bold style of his master with such success as to rank next him as an engraver ; but he has neither his neatness nor finish, and is very unequal in his work.’ He was killed at the siege of Rome, in 1527.

No. 94, Hercules and Antus, after a design by Raffaelle, is one of the finest engravings of Marc Antonio. It has also been engraved by Agostino Veneziano (1490—1540), who came to Rome to study under the great master of his art, and was only second to Marco Dente da Ravenna. In the same frame are Venus, Mars, and Cupid ; also two lovely Sibyls.

No. 95, a most lovely Venus and Cupid, Raffaelle’s Muse o Poetry in the Parnassus, and Venus at the Bath, by Marc Antonio ; also a group of children dancing, by him, and below it the same subject, by Marco da Ravenna.

The next series of engravings are most of them by Marco da Ravenna. No. 101, the Graces, copied from Marc Antonio; the composition suggested by the antique group in the Museum at Perugia.

No. 102, the Statue of Marcus Aurelius at Rome : in this frame and those which follow, are subjects taken from classical art.

No. 109, an engraving by Giulio Romano of the Madonna del Collo Lungo by Parmigiano in the Pitti.

The next series of engravings are by Giulio Bonasone and Nicolas Beatrizet.

Bonasone was a very distinguished engraver from Bologna (1510—1580), who studied with Marc Antonio. He entirely worked with the graver, his outlines are clear, and his engravings have great elegance. Nicolas Beatrizet was French, born at Thionville, 1507, but he went early to study in Rome, where he died in 1562 ; he was probably also a scholar of Marc Antonio’s pupil, Agostino Veneziano.

No. 117, St. Jerome in Prayer, a fine composition by Titian, is likewise engraved by Beatrizet.

No. 119, Children at Play, after Raffaelle, is by an engraver known as Il Maestro del Dado–the master of the Die—who worked at Rome from 1532 to 1535. He was one of the immediate followers of Marc Antonio, and engraved exclusively after Raffaelle’s designs, thus preserving the record of some which have been lost.

Several engravings follow by Giorgio Ghisi of Mantua 1520-1580), whose works are very rare.

No. 130, is the Dispute of the Sacrament in the Stanze of the Vatican, and a very fine engraving ; No. 133, the Woman taken in Adultery, a beautiful composition by Giulio Romano, engraved by Diana Ghisi (1530-1588), the sister of Giorgio Ghisi and of Ridolfi Ghisi, the painter ; who was instructed in her art by her brother Giorgio. A composition by Raffaelle, No.128, called La Saetta,is powerfully rendered by Giorgio Ghisi.

No. 140, a Bacchanalian scene, and the Combat of the Horatii and Curiatii is by Aeneas Vico, of Parma (1519-1570), who visited Rome to study under Marc Antonio.

We now arrive at the works of a great master and founder of another school of engraving, Cornelius Cort, born in Holland 1536, and who died in Rome 1578. He went to Italy in his youth and resided in Titian’s house in Venice, where he engraved some of the finest works of the great painter, and then proceeded to Rome, where he established his school. ` The art of engraving,’ according to Bryan, ` had hitherto been nearly confined to small plates, and it was Cornelius Cort that opened the way to a more important walk in the art. It was under this able artist that Agostino Caracci acquired his admirable use of the graver. The plates of Cornelius Cort are entirely executed with this instrument in a bold, open, and masterly style.’

From No. 143 to No. 151, are engravings by this artist. Those of a later school follow, comprising Cavalieri, an imitator of Marc Antonio and Salvator Rosa Villamene, of Assisi, born 1566, supposed to be a fellow-student with Agostino Caracci, under Cort ; his style is bold and open.

No. 167 is a Deposition from the Cross, engraved by him after Baroccio.

No. 169, the Death of Brutus, his own composition. Other works follow by Andrea Procaccini, born at Rome 1671, of the school of Carlo Maratti ; Luca Giordano, a Neapolitan, born 1632, and Pietro Santi Bartoli, a distinguished engraver of Perugia, born 1635.

After the engravings of the Italian school, succeed the German, beginning with the works of Lucas Kranach, born 1472 in the Bishopric of Bamberg, a contemporary of Albert Durer, whom he excelled in woodcutting. Among the works of Kranach are No. 226, Adam and Eve, and a Repose in Egypt.

The engravings of Hans Sebald Beham, of Nuremberg, born 1500, are no less renowned. He came early to Italy. He is remarkable for his correct drawing of the figure. His copper plates are worked entirely with the graver, and his woodcuts are greatly esteemed ; a large engraving, No. 229, represents a village feast ; several smaller plates follow.

There are some very fine engravings here by the celebrated German artist, Albert Dürer of Nuremberg, born 1471 ; among the best are No. 244, Fortune ; also a Cavalier and Lady : No. 251, St. Eustace in Prayer before the Stag : No. 456, the portrait of Melanchthon : No. 249, the Flagellation and Christ presented to the People : No. 253, the portrait of Pirkheimer, a Senator of Nuremberg, and No. 251, Melancholy, are among the most remarkable ; but every work of Albert Dürer, of which there are upwards of a hundred exhibited on this wall deserves careful study.

On the opposite wall are engravings of Lucas von Leyden, born 1494, and a splendid series of etchings and engravings by Rembrandt.

Among these we may mention :

No. 281, a living portrait of Coppenel, a writing-master. No. 282, the Good Samaritan.

No. 167, the Burgomaster Six, of Amsterdam.

No. 288, Lazarus Rising from the Tomb.

No. 294, Christ Shown to the People.

No. 295, the Announcement to the Shepherds.

No. 297, Christ Preaching to the Multitude.

No. 300, the Deposition from the Cross ; and

No. 305, a splendid landscape called, The Three Trees.

After Rembrandt, follows a series of engravings by Dutch and Flemish masters. No. 211, the Broken Dyke, by Peter Nolpe, is very striking. Nolpe was born in the Hague, 1601. His plates are usually executed with the point and finished with the graver; his landscapes are engraved in a bold free, masterly style.’

No. 325, a Calvary, after Albert Dürer, is by Jacob Math am, of Haerlem, 1571.

Rubens and his followers begin a new school of art, brilliant in light, and full of life and movement.

No. 382, a Holy Family, after Rubens, is engraved by Scheltius Bolswert, of Friesland, who studied with his more celebrated brother Adam Bolswert, about the end of the sixteenth century.

No. 338, the Deposition from the Cross, by Rubens, engraved by Lucas Vorsterman, who was born at Antwerp 1578, and having studied under Rubens, rendered the compositions of the master with more spirit than any other engraver.

No. 360, Christ Crowned with Thorns, after Vandyke, is engraved by Scheltius Bolswert.

.The Fleming Gerard Edelinck is included among French engravers, though born in Antwerp 1640 ; but he was invited to Paris by Colbert in 1665, and was taken into the service of Louis XIV.

No. 367, is an engraving of Edelinck, after a picture by Charles Le Brun. Next it, No. 368, is Callot’s famous engraving of the Fair of the Impruneta. Jacques Callot was born at Nancy, in Lorraine, 1592 ; he led a singularly adventurous life, and worked for a considerable time in Italy ; he was a favourite of the Grand Duke Cosimo II. at Florence, and only returned to Lorraine on the death of his patron ; thence he proceeded to Paris, where he was employed by Louis XIII. to engrave some of the principal sieges and battles of the French.

No. 370, a Holy Family, after Raffaelle, is by Edelinck, as well as No. 373, the portrait of Charles d’ Hoyser, and the still finer portrait No. 374, of the celebrated painter, Philippe de Champagne.

No. 388, a Pietà, after Annibale Caracci. The picture was formerly in the Orleans collection, but now belongs to the Earl of Carlisle ; the engraving is by Jean Louis Roullet, born 1645 at Arles, in Provence ; this is one of his most esteemed works.

No. 389, a portrait of Bossuet, by Pierre Drevet the Younger, of Paris, born in 1697. He is renowned for finish and clearness of touch. This portrait is one of the finest examples of his method of engraving. Next it is a portrait of Louis XIV. by the father, Pierre Drevet the Elder, who was inferior to his son.

No. 394, a Tempest, after Joseph Vernet, by Jean Jacques Balechou, born 1710 at Arles : a well-known engraver, remark-able for clearness and brilliancy ; his plates after Vernet are among his finest productions.

No. 400, Paternal Admonitions, after Terburg, and other engravings in No. 402 are by Hans Georg Wille of Kônigsberg, born in 1715.

The best English engravers begin with Robert Strange, born in the Orkney Isles 1721, and who died, after receiving knight-hood, in 1792. His engravings are chiefly after the works of the most eminent Italian artists ; but the principal here are No. 407, Charles I. of England, after Vandyke ; No. 409, Charles I.: his equerry holding his horse, also after Vandyke; and No. 414, Venus blinding Cupid, after Titian.

William Woollett, of Maidstone, Kent (1735-1785), chiefly engraved landscape. No. 411, a Morning Scene, is by Swaneveldt.

Of the modern German engravers, the Deposition from the Cross after Fra Bartolommeo, by Moritz Steinla, and No. 429, the Madonna di San Sisto by Friedrich Müller, are among the most interesting.

Returning to Italian and French engravers of this and the latter part of the preceding century, we have Nos. 435 and 426, portraits of Lord Mansfield and the Chancellor Thurlow by Francesco Bartolozzi and No. 439, the Incendio del Borgo and the Parnassus of Raffaelle, engraved by Volpato.

No. 443, a very fine engraving of the Repose in Egypt after Nicolas Poussin, is by Raffaelle Morghen.

No. 444, is an equally fine engraving by the same artist after Guido Reni.

Besides these, there are engravings by Morghen, No. 446, of the Madonna della Seggiola ; No. 440, the Transfiguration ; No. 450, the Madonna del Sacco of Andrea del Sarto ; No. 451, the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci ; and No. 452, the Madonna del Cardellino of Raffaelle. No. 454 is an engraving by Giuseppe Longhi of the Sposalizio of Raffaelle at Milan ; also No. 455, a Holy Family of Raffaelle. No. 468, the Infant Jesus of Carlo Maratti is engraved by Giovita Garavaglia, who has also engraved No. 467, the Madonna della Seggiola.

No. 470, is a Madonna and Child by Raffaelle engraved by Samuele Tesi.

The rest of this passage leading to the Pitti is lined with supposed, and some real, portraits of royal and distinguished personages ; the only pictures of merit are by Sir Peter Lely viz. the portraits of Nell Gwynne, Lady Middleton, the Duchess of Cleveland, and the Duchess of Rochester. There are also some curious views of Tuscan cities.