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Antonio Giuseppe Barbazza

(1722 Rome, active in Italy and Spain)

Bust of a a woman wearing a laurel wreath looking upwards; Bust of a woman wearing a headband, with downcast eyes. 2 etchings, each measuring approx. 47.2 x 40.7 cm. (1765). From Le Blanc 1–4; Meyer, Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, II, 719, from 1–4. Watermark: letters Auvergne.

According to Heineken, the painter, etcher and poet Antonio Barbazza was a member of the Accademia Bologna, which suggests he has been active in the Emilian capital. Around 1771 the artist seems to have emigrated to Spain, where he designed cartoons for the Royal Carpet Manufactory in Aranjuez and is known to have remained up to 1778. Wilhelm Engelmann has pointed out that Barbazza’s etchings, especially the suite entitled Four Heads Taken From Nature, published by Pasquier in Paris in 1765, were greatly admired by his contemporaries (Meyer, op .cit., p. 719). The two present female portraits, which belong to this cycle, are indeed treated with great freedom and spontaneity. The portrayals are impressive not only for their format – they are slightly more than life-size and make a correspondingly imposing impression – but also for their energetic linework, which was intended to be imitative of a pen drawing. The formal canon employed, with its synthesis of emotional sweep and classicist idealization, shows Barbazza to be a typical representative of late Italian Baroque. Despite the evident fame he enjoyed in his lifetime, the artist soon fell into oblivion. Hence his etchings crop up only very sporadically.

Superb, sharp impressions, showing considerable relief also on the verso. Minor defects, otherwise in very good condition.

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