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Circle of. A Group of Women Sat Indoors Doing Needlework. Etching and burin. 13.4 x 17.9 cm. 1554. Not in Bartsch or Passavant; Meyer, Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, II, pp. 39, 57. Watermark: Crossed arrows with star (cf. Briquet 6300–02, Verona, after 1542).
In the past this delightful portrayal was deemed to be the work of Giovanni Battista d’Angolo. The attribution goes back to a note made by Wessely which was taken up in the late 19th century by Wilhelm Schmidt, the curator of the Royal Collection of Copper Engravings and Drawings in Munich. However, d’Angolo’s authorship is now considered uncertain. Works of his that have come down to us are very heterogeneous, which makes it extremely difficult to pin down his oeuvre in stylistic terms.
There can be no doubt, however, that the present etching was done by an artist from Northern Italy. A genre scene rendered in a free and fluid manner, it has similarities with the art of Parmigianino and arose just over a decade after the latter’s death. Despite a certain lack of polish, this rare, small-scale work exerts a strong fascination. A young mother is teaching her four daughters needlework. The sensitively observed scene takes place in an open loggia which affords a view of a pre-
Alpine landscape. The women engaged in sewing and embroidery symbolise domestic harmony and virtuousness. A little dog, the personification of loyalty, lies at the youngest girl’s feet. The women’s elegant upswept hairstyle and the fine cut of their dresses, together with the ornamental vessels including a handle vase strongly reminiscent of Parmigianino, suggest that they are of noble birth. Stylistically, the work is vaguely similar to that of Angelo Falcone (1507 Rovereto – 1567 Verona), who worked as a painter and etcher in Verona throughout his life. D’Angolo’s Emilian origins help to explain his affinity with Parmigianino’s art.
A very fine, tonal impression with even margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.