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Giovanni Antonio Lorenzini

(1665–1740, Bologna)

John the Baptist Preaching in the Desert. Etching from two plates, after Lorenzo Pasinelli. 46.4 x 80 cm. Bartsch 6, Nagler 6. Watermark: Bird in a circle (similar to Woodward 77).

Giovanni Antonio Lorenzini, an etcher active in Bologna, studied under the history and portrait painter, Lorenzo Pasinelli (1629–1700). However, he soon gave up painting to devote himself exclusively to etching. Nagler says Lorenzini was so fascinated by monastery life while working in the Church of San Francesco in Bologna that he entered the Franciscan order and was subsequently called Fra Antonio.
As an artist he produced a quite considerable printed oeuvre, although Bartsch records only eight of his prints. The works by Lorenzini he refers to are without exception from his early period. According to Nagler, they are “intelligently treated”, while the works from his late period often appear somewhat stiff and dogmatic. John the Baptist Preaching in the Desert, the work on offer here, is without doubt Lorenzini’s artistically most ambitious and significant work. A very rare etching, it is remarkable for its monumental size alone. Individual pro­ta­gonists in exotic, oriental dress betray the influence of the etcher, Salvator Rosa. Lorenzini has a good feel for psycholo­gical characterisation and a keen eye for anecdotal detail.

The crowd that has gathered listens to John’s words with awestruck wonder. The artist has portrayed the close relationship between mothers and their small children with loving attention. A very fine and visually striking detail is the back of a man wear­ing a turban in the left foreground who is attentively follow­ing the sermon in the accompaniment of a child from a crevice in the rock. The whole is treated in a vibrant, transparent etch­ing technique which produces fine tonal effects and, in its buoyant lightness, is characteristic of Late Baroque Bolognese art.

A superb, harmonious and tonal impression with even margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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