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Giulio Cesare Procaccini

(1574 Bologna – 1625 Milan)

The Holy Family. Etching. 16.4 x 12.4 cm. B. XIX, 75, 2 (Andrea Camassei).

The prints of Giulio Cesare are of greatest rarity and far less known than the work of his brother Camillo. According to Sue Welsh Reed, only two of the six prints hitherto attributed to Giulio Cesare are autograph works (see exhibit. cat. Italian Etchers of the Renaissance and Baroque, Boston 1989, no. 58, pp. 121–123). The present print was erroneously attributed to Andrea Camassei (1602–1649), a painter active in Rome, by Adam von Bartsch. However, it is an autograph work by Procaccini, done between 1613–15. Apparently the artist only made etchings on the side and for a short period; this would account for the very basic etching technique deployed in the present sheet. Procaccini has used a simple system of parallel and cross-hatching, which lends the etching some of the spontaneity of a pen drawing. The plate was created in a single bite and certain technical defects point to the artist’s lack of experience in the medium. Individual areas of clothing and draperies show foul biting, later overworked with the brush. It is not fully clear whether or not this retouching was done by the artist himself. In any case, this small, precious sheet must be appreciated for its freedom and elegance of line and for its atmospheric qualities. The fluid and concentrated composition and the softness of the lines and individual form emphasize the emotional content and create a melancholy atmosphere that surely refers to the work of Parmigianino.

The present etching is extremely rare and only very few impressions are known. A superb impression printed with subtle plate tone, on brownish, warm-toned paper; the platemark partly visible. Minor handling marks and glue residues on the verso, otherwise in mint, unrestored condition. From the collection of Alcide Donnadieu (Lugt 97), according to an old pencil inscription on the verso, also from the Cab(inet) Dreux et Guichardot (Lugt 694–695 and 1302–1303).

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