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St. Mary Magdalene in the Desert. Etching. 10 x 8.2 cm. 1635. The Illustrated Bartsch, vol. 47, part 1, commentary, p. 217, 015.
There are only a few known dates for the life and work of Domenico Peruzzini, often confused in the older literature with his brother Giovanni. The artist spent his youth and most of his later life in the Marches region of central Italy, a region still dominated by the artistic legacy of the brilliant Federico Barrocci, who died in Urbino in 1612. At the advanced age of 40, Peruzzini became a student of Simone Cantarini in Pesaro; Cantarini had left Guido Reni, his Bolognese master, after an argument and settled in Pesaro in 1638 or 1639. After this apprenticeship Peruzzzini worked mainly in Urbania and Pesaro in his home region. As Paolo Bellini argues convincingly in the commentary volume of The Illustrated Bartsch, to compile an exact list of the printed work by Peruzzini poses certain difficulties. Firstly, autograph prints are rare and are in any case often confused with etchings by Domenico Piola. Belllini was nonetheless able to add a number of sheets to the 11 etchings already listed by Bartsch, so that Peruzzini's printed work now comprises 29 etchings altogether.
The present depiction of St. Mary Magdalene in the desert, which is completely unknown in the critical literature to date, has been treated in a light, spirited etching technique modelled on the work of Cantarini. The composition is dominated by the charming young woman with her splendid head of flowing hair. She folds her hands in prayer and looks to the side with her head slightly inclined. Enchanting Cherubim enliven the scene, giving it a certain lightness. This small, refined etching is extremely rare. Bellini was aware of only one other impression, which is in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. A fine, delicate and rich impression with thread margins. In mint condition.