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Francesco Rosaspina

(1762 Monte Scudolo – 1841 Bologna)

Allegory of the Printer Giovanni Battista Bodoni. Etching and aquatint in brown. 54 x 74.5 cm. 1817. Nagler 34.

The Allegory of Giovanni Battista Bodoni is a print of major importance in the extensive œuvre of Francesco Rosaspina who, together with Francesco Bartolozzi and Giovanni Volpato, ranks among the foremost reproductive engravers of the late 18th century. Rosaspina was an extraordinarily gifted engraver, who had a brilliant mastery of a wide range of different printing techniques and, as head of the Scuola d’incisione at the Academy of Bologna, trained a whole host of artists.

The present large-format commemorative work is a characteristic example of Rosaspina’s technically sophisticated and refined etching style. The most celebrated artists, poets and philosophers of ancient and modern times have gathered around to pay homage to the printer and typographer Giovanni Battista Bodoni, who had died in Padua in 1813, a few years before this print was produced. A genius crowns the person honoured, who stands before a statue of Minerva. Evidently, Anton Raphael Mengs already belongs to this Olympus, as his profile adorns the plinth of the statue. In keeping with the solemn nature of the occasion, the portrayal has been executed in a highly disciplined, transparent etching technique, which however never makes a rigid or static impression, but radiates mellow serenity. The expert use of aquatint creates soft painterly transitions.

A very fine, tonal impression with margins around the platemark. Minor soiling, some minor defects, otherwise in very good condition.

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