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The Great Oak in the Wind. Etching. 26.5 x 18.1 cm. Meyer, Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon (1878), II, 38, 43.
This heavily symbolic landscape is an absolute rarity within the printed œuvre of Battista del Moro. The etching was unknown to Adam von Bartsch and subsequent authors until it was published by Wilhelm Schmidt in 1878 and included in his listing of Battista’s prints with the epithet “undescribed”. A likely reason for the late attribution of the print is the fact that Battista del Moro’s style is unusually heterogeneous and multifarious, even though the print bears the monogram B.M. in the lower righthand corner. The artist’s later prints, in particular, combine all the characteristic features of a “painter etching”. They are done with a very spontaneous and light touch and possess that typically Venetian sense of atmospheric effect. This also applies to the present landscape, which again must be attributed to the late work. The sureness with which the vegetation, landscape and sky are defined is reminiscent of such North Italian artists as Battista Pittoni and Giovanni Battista Zelotti, with whom del Moro had collaborated on several occasions from the late 1550s onwards.
The motto “Firmissima convelli non posse” goes back to the emblem book of Andrea Alciati (Emblemata XLII), which went through several editions after 1531. “What stands fast cannot be overthrown” is the deeper meaning of this saying, which in the figurative sense should be seen as a summons to firmness of character. The powerful winds churn up the sea into a storm and blow away the dry leaves of the tree, but the “holy oak” remains standing thanks to its powerful roots.
A superb, transparent and tonal impression with full margins. Minor surface soiling, otherwise in excellent, unrestored condition.