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Giuseppe Caletti

(known as Cremonese, c. 1600 Ferrara - 1660 Cremona)

Samson and Delilah. Etching. 13 x 14.7 cm. B. XX, pp. 133, 64.

The painter and etcher, Giuseppe Caletti, was a charming and talented minor master of the Italian Baroque. As a painter Caletti was probably self-taught and modelled himself on Titian and Dosso Dossi, whose style he attempted to emulate. His endeavours in this direction were so successful that during his lifetime collectors in Ferrara and Rome regarded his works as originals by the masters. Today, however, Caletti is best known for his small and rare corpus of prints, which are notable for their highly original, although occasionally bizarre iconography. While Caletti had a penchant for small-scale works, he succeeded in injecting considerable substance and visual succinctness into his biblical scenes, nonetheless. The present depiction of Samson and Delilah is a typical example of his intricate and individual etching style. The pose of the sleeping Samson is rendered in a very striking manner. The oblique view underlines the physical strength of his outstretched body, while the pretty, girlish Delilah forms an effective contrast to his virile presence. Behind a balustrade the Philistines await an opportunity to overcome their enemy. The whole scene is sketched in a brisk, accurate style. Visible in the background is the silhouette of the city of Ferrara, which appears on several occasions in Calettiā€™s etchings. A very fine impression in a state not described by Bartsch in which the number in the top left-hand corner is covered by hatching; trimmed to the platemark. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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