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FRA BONAVENTURA BISI
(called il Padre Pitturino, 1612–1659 Bologna)

The Holy Family. Etching after Parmigianino. 31.6 x 23.2 cm. 1634. Nagler, Die Monogrammisten II, 1956; De Vesme 1 III.


Fra Bonaventura Bisi, a Franciscan monk and pupil of Lucio Massari, was known primarily as a miniaturist. He must have been an educated and respected figure for, at an advanced age, he advised Duke Alphonse IV of Modena on acquisitions for his art collection. Bisi was also active as a printmaker, as the present extremely rare print shows. Nagler recorded just this one etching, which he considered to be modelled after Parmigianino. De Vesme added a further impression to Bisi’s oeuvre, but it is doubtful whether this can in fact be attributed to him. In contrast to Nagler, however, De Vesme considered Giorgio Vasari and not Parmigianino to be the author of the composition. Bisi’s artistic idiom is remarkable for its deliberately retrospective character. The elegance and fluency of the drawing and the rendering of the soft, opulent folds convey in perfect manner the spirit of the Cinquecento.

A superb, rich and contrasting impression with thread margins around the borderline; the full text margin contains a dedication to Cassiano del Pozzo at the bottom. Minor defects and an unobtrusive printer’s crease notwithstanding, otherwise in perfect condition.