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Marco San Martino

(1615/25 probably Naples – 1680/1700 Venice)

Comparatively little is known to date about the life of the painter and etcher Marco San Martino, who was born in or around Naples, and researchers have so far paid little attention to his work. This probably has to do, amongst other things, with the fact that only a few prints of each of his etchings and a mere handful of his paintings have survived. Moreover, the many journeys San Martino undertook through Italy mean that he cannot be assigned to any particular school, while his idiosyncratic etching style makes him something of an odd man out. One of the main characteristics of his prints is that they were evidently produced at great speed and were almost never reworked, as a consequence of which subsequent printing states can only be verified in extremely rare cases. Moreover, many of his works, regardless of whether they show sacred, mythological or genre-like scenes, feature motifs of cattle grazing or peasants. Paolo Bellini points out that the artist was often very ingenious in his compositions and that his modest, artistically unorthodox oeuvre was apparently not intended as a kowtow to the complex art practices of his time but was compiled simply for his own pleasure.