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Giovanni David

(1743 Cabella Ligure – 1790 Genoa)

Putti Making a Sacrifice to the Roman God Terminus. Etching on firm, Venetian laid paper. 13.2 x 10.4 cm. Grasso 156 I (of II).

In the overall context of 18th century Italian art the works of Giovanni David occupy a special position that is attributable to the remarkable originality and creative power of his images. David was an immensely talented etcher and his printed oeuvre, most of it produced in Venice between 1775 and 1779, radiates a liveliness of mind and a willingness to experiment with new techniques.

This delicate little etching was made as a companion piece to a print of the same size depicting a sacrifice made to the goddess Isis (Grasso 155). The lively, agile putti are projected into a mini­mum of space and portrayed with a sense of wit and a sharp eye for anecdotal detail. One of them, balanced on tiptoe on a pedestal in the middle of the picture, is garlanding the statue of the impish-looking god Terminus. A chubby boy squats in front of the statue holding a knife and sacrificial platter at the ready, while a third putto makes an offering of incense and is blinded by the spiralling smoke. The entire scene, which is treated in a buoyant, spirited manner, exudes a Rococo-like light-heartedness.

This small etching is rare. Grassi records a single impression of the first state in the Albertina in Vienna, but was unable to verify the existence of any impression of the second state. A very fine, contrasting impression with the visible platemark. In excellent condition.

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