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Giovanni Battista Pasqualini

(1595–1631, Cento)

Memoria. Engraving after Guercino. 28.9 x 29.1 cm. (1625). Bagni 85. Watermark: Fleur-de-lis.

Giovanni Battista Pasqualini was very likely a student of Oliviero Gatti at the Accademia del Nudo founded by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, alias Guercino, in 1616 in the latter’s native town of Cento. In the following years Pasqualini became one of the main printmakers of works by Guercino, joining the master when he moved to Rome in May 1621. By the time of his premature death in 1631 Pasqualini had made some seventy engravings after designs by Guercino, including the present print with an allegory on the theme of Memoria, symbolised by the young woman enthroned on clouds reading from a book. She is flanked by Chronos and a flying putto who turns his gaze to the observer and points to the inscription Memoria. Both Chronos and the putto are holding hourglasses in their hands which, like the book the young woman is reading, point to the passing of time and to the importance of memory. The drawing on which the engraving is based is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (pen and brown ink, 23.2 x 28.2 cm, inv. no. DYCE.306). Pasqualini made the print for a three-part series of engravings, the two other allegories being of Voluntas and Intellectus (see Bagni 81, 83). The connection between the triad of memory, will and understanding goes back to the Church Father Augustine (354–430 A.D.), who saw in them the three main powers of the soul. Pasqualini dedicated the prints to the imperial ambassador, collector and patron, Duke Federico Savelli (circa 1584–1649), who was sent by Pope Urban VIII to Ferrara in 1625, the year the prints were made, as Lieutenant-General of the Roman Church. Pasqualini’s engraving is exceedingly rare.

A fine impression with framing line, to which it is trimmed on the right, and with lower text margin. Minor ageing and handling marks, otherwise in very good condition. Literature: Prisco Bagni, Il Guercino e i suoi incisori, Rome 1988, pp. 9–11, 58–60.

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