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Giuseppe Diamantini

(1621–1705, Fossombrone)

Saturn and Rhea. Etching. 26.1 x 20 cm. B. 35, TIB .035, Calabi 21.

Although he came from Fossombrone in the Marche, Giuseppe Diamantini was one of the leading etchers in Venice in the second half of the Seicento. Having trained in Bologna, where he was apprenticed to Giovanni Andrea Sirani and was greatly influenced by Simone Cantarini, Diamantini settled in Venice around 1662 and spent almost the whole of his life there as a painter and etcher. He produced a quite extensive printed oeuvre, the outstanding features of which are his impetuous, spontaneous style and the atmospheric, painterly effect he achieves. Many of his prints appeared in very small editions, which explains the rarity of the present etching. Diamantini’s artistic signature is highly individual and easily recognisable. In all probability the artist dispensed with any preliminary drawings and etched his compositions straight onto the plate; the linework is correspondingly brisk and uninhibited with the emphasis more on tonal effect than abundant detail.

The present print depicting the mythological pair of Titans, Saturn and Rhea, is one of two versions Diamantini produced on this subject. Flanked by two putti, the gods are sat on a bench in the open air in front of ancient pieces of scenery. The pose adopted by the naked Rhea occurs in a similar form, but in reverse, in a depiction of Flora (Bartsch 22). She hands her brother Saturn an apple, an obvious reference to the legendary “island of the blessed” (Elysium), on which fruits as sweet as honey constantly grow and where the pair of Titans once ruled. A charming print set in an octagonal frame, it has the address of the Venetian publisher, Paolo Pagani, inscribed in the bottom left-hand corner. The proud addition of “Eques” to Diamantini’s name is an indication that the etching was made after 1663, the year in which he was raised to the nobility. A very fine, tonal impression, trimmed to the platemark. Minor ageing and traces of handling, otherwise in excellent condition.

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