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Giovanni Pietro Possenti

(1618–1659, Bologna)

The Flaying of Marsyas by Apollo. Etching. 14.6 x 21.6 cm. B. XIX, p. 186, 5, Nagler, Die Monogram­misten II, 565 (Pecham), Le Blanc 6, Hollstein (Georg Pecham / Possenti) 4.

The identity of the monogrammist GP was long a source of confusion, which in the past led to different attributions. Bartsch was aware of a total of seven etchings which he ascribed to an anonymous pupil of Guido Reni. Later on, Nagler associated the small oeuvre with the Augsburg-born painter and etcher Georg Pecham. It was not until 1994 that Nadine M. Orenstein supplied convincing proof that the ten etchings known at that time were by the painter and printmaker, Giovanni Pietro Possenti, who was active in Bologna, Padua and Venice (see Nadine M. Orenstein, “Possenti and Hercules”, Print Quarterly, XI, no. 1, March 1994, pp. 20–25). All these prints show the same artistic idiosyncrasy and a dynamic, highly evocative style of etching. On the subject of Possenti’s etching technique Bartsch spoke of hatchings “faites d’une manière confuse et tournées en différents sens”. His expressive, rugged style is highly appropriate for the flaying of Marsyas in a scene full of drama and violence.

The etching is very rare. Hollstein was able to verify just two impressions in Hamburg and Princeton. A very fine, nuanced and inky impression with thread margins around the framing line. Minor ageing and traces of handling, otherwise in excellent condition.

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