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giovanni david
(1743 Cabella Ligure – 1790 Genoa)

Artemisia. Etching. 9.5 x 13.8 cm. (1775). Le Blanc 12; Newcome Schleier/Grasso 145 I (of II).

This rare and precious print is the pendant to another etching showing the Suicide of Lucretia. Artemisia was the sister and consort of the Persian satrap and ruler of Caria, Mausolus II, who died in 353 B.C. According to legend, Artemisia’s grief at the loss of her brother and husband was so great that she drank the ashes of the deceased mixed with wine to give him a living grave. To commemorate him she completed the Mausoleum of Halicarnassos, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Despite the small format the composition radiates a great degree of expressiveness and creative concentration. David shows us Artemisia slumped to the ground with grief, clasping with both arms the urn containing the ashes of the dead king, while at her feet lie the attributes of his rule: the crown and the sceptre. The light, ethereal etching technique lends the scene a lyrical pathos that might have been taken from an opera seria by Mozart or Gluck.

A fine, contrasting impression with margins. In impeccable condition.