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Six Nymphs and Two Putti. Etching. 27.5 x 38.8 cm. (1744). De Vesme 5.
This charming, masterfully arranged composition, an early work by Fontebasso, comes from the rare, eight-sheet series entitled Varii Baccanali et Istorie inventate et incise in rame... published by Giorgio Fossati in Venice in 1744. The painter and etcher, Francesco Fontebasso, studied under Sebastiano Ricci. So successful were his fresco decorations that in 1760 he was invited to the court in St. Petersburg, where he lived and worked for the almost the rest of his life. Although Fontebasso was a very experienced and talented etcher, his printed oeuvre is nonetheless small and rare, since he later devoted his attention entirely to painting. Mariette confirmed that the artist had “un fond de génie” as a printmaker.
The present, vigorously treated work brings out all Fontebasso’s strengths as an etcher and serves to illustrate the degree of liveliness and expressiveness he achieved in the use of this medium. The ethereal, richly varied and freely executed hatching patterns are of the utmost graphic delicacy and envelop the scene in a vibrant chiaroscuro. The nymphs and cupids move around freely and uninhibitedly in this spiritual microcosm. The Venetian genre of the capriccio finds perfect artistic expression here. A superb, crisp impression with thread margins around the framing line. Minor ageing, otherwise in very good condition.