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Gaetano Gandolfi

(1734 San Matteo della Decima - 1802 Bologna)

The Rape of Proserpina. Etching. 7.1 x 11 cm. De Vesme 12.

The painter and etcher, Gaetano Gandolfi, grew up in a family of artists. Taught by his elder brother, Ubaldo Gandolfi, and Ercole Lelli at the Accademia Clementina in Bologna, he spent the year 1760 studying in Venice, where he was primarily influenced by the work of Giambattista Tiepolo. After his return to Bologna, Gandolfi became one of the most sought-after scene and fresco painters of his time. His head, composition and anatomical studies in pen and ink, pencil and pastel were held in very high esteem by his contemporaries. His work as a teacher at the Academy in Bologna enabled him to exert a decisive influence on the work of subsequent generations of artists. Gandolfi also produced a very extensive printed oeuvre including reproductive prints as well as prints after his own inventions.

The dramatic depiction of the abduction of Proserpina is one of Gandolfi’s own inventions. Despite the small format, the etching is convincing in its compositional density and technical refinement. The subject matter is treated in a light, intricate and vibrant etching technique and, for all the dynamic nature of the event, the image radiates a rococo-like lightness. A fine impression with even margins. 

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