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Giovanni David

(1743 Cabella Ligure – 1790 Genoa)

Allegory of Painting. Etching on firm Venetian laid paper. 30.1 x 22.6 cm. (1775). Grasso 160. Water­mark: Large crowned coat-of-arms with three stars.

Giovanni David demonstrates characteristic verve and creative imagination in this eloquent Allegory of Painting. Pictura sits in front of her easel in an enchanted and picturesque pleasure garden. To her left a putto points mischievously at the still empty canvas; at her feet two other boys are making themselves useful. The putto on the right is cleaning the palette while his companion is rubbing pigments. A gentle breeze caresses the treetops; remains of ancient ruins form a scenic backdrop. Every­thing is depicted in a light, lively Rococo-like style. The inscription gives an idea of the creative restlessness that has befallen the young painter, reminding her of her task of creating works for eternity. 

This rare print of great charm stems from Giovanni David’s Venetian period, which marks a high point in his artistic career. That David’s oeuvre occupies a special position in the overall panorama of Italian art in the Settecento is attributable to the remarkable originality of his imagery. He was an exceptionally gifted etcher and his extensive printed work, most of which dates to the period he spent in Venice between 1775 and 1779, draws its appeal from the love of technical experimentation and artistic ingenuity it reveals. David owed his success to the protection of a single man, the Genoese diplomat and patron, Giacomo Durazzo, who gave him unstinting support throughout his career. This print belongs to a set of etchings David devoted to his mentor. 

A superb, contrasting and harmonious impression with wide margins. Minor signs of ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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