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Giorgio Ghisi

(known as Mantovano, 1512–1582, Mantua)

The Trinity. Engraving. 41.5 x 30.2 cm. 1576. Bartsch 14; Lewis-Lewis 57 I (of III), Bellini 60 I (of V).

A product of Ghisi’s late period, this magnificent engraving with its highly intricate composition was dedicated to Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. The exceptional position it occupies in the artist’s oeuvre is due not just to its rarity; the work is also a perfect example of the Mantuan master’s outstanding technical virtuosity. The brilliance of the draughtsmanship, the remarkable refinement of the engraving technique and the almost unlimited variety of differentiated hatching patterns show Ghisi at the peak of his ability. These were the qualities which established his reputation, which extended well beyond the borders of Italy and stretched as far as Flanders.

In 1550 the artist moved to Antwerp where he worked for several years as a reproductive engraver for the famous publishing house run by Hieronymus Cock. In 1555/56 he was in Paris and Fontainebleau. In the course of his travels the humanist-trained Ghisi took due note of the accomplishments of Northern European artists and derived inspiration from the works of renowned predecessors. The Trinity is the only engraving by Ghisi on which he affixed his name as Inventor. Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut of the The Holy Trinity (Meder 187) undoubtedly served him as a source of inspiration, although Ghisi injects his own very distinctive personal style into the complex composition.

A superb, crisp and tonal early impression, before the address of Nicolaes van Aelst and before all further editions. With even thread margins around the inky platemark, verso with traces of a different impression. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition. From the collection of J. A. Boerner, 1817 (Lugt 1869).

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