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Giuseppe Diamantini

(1621–1705, Fossombrone)

Saturn, Eros and a Woman. Etching. 25.5 x 19.3 cm. B. 30, TIB 47 (Commentary Part 3) .030, Calabi 35. Watermark: Crown adorned with a star.

Giuseppe Diamantini was one of the foremost Venetian etchers in the second half of the Seicento, although he actually hailed from the Marches. Trained in Bologna, where he was apprenticed to Giovanni Andrea Sirani and greatly influenced by the work of Simone Cantarini, Diamantini settled in the 1650s in Venice, where he was to work as a painter and etcher for almost the whole of his life. He produced a quite substantial printed oeuvre whose appeal derives from the impetuous, spontaneous style and the painterly, atmospheric effect. Many of his works were published in very small editions, which accounts for the rarity of the present etching. Diamantini’s artistic signature is of great individuality and instantly recognisable. In all probability the artist dispensed with any preliminary drawings and etched his compositions straight onto the plate. The linework is correspondingly free and lively and eschews extensive detail in favour of tonal effect.

In the present composition the artist probably deliberately eschewed any explicit iconography. On the left of the picture we see the god Saturn sat with his head resting on his left hand. In his right hand he holds a long staff which a naked boy is attempting to grasp. The boy has his back to us but his blindfolded eyes make him identifiable as Eros. Saturn and Eros are accompanied by the figure of a woman standing with a laurel wreath on her head and her body veiled in nothing but a drapery. Given that she is holding a flute in her hand, she can only be Euterpe, the muse of music and lyric poetry. As is so often the case in Diamantini’s work, this delightful composition has something enigmatic about it – a poetic capriccio fully in keeping with the spirit of Venetian art at the time.

A very fine, delicate and inky impression with margins around the partly distinct platemark. Minor staining, horizontal centre fold, other minor handling marks, otherwise in excellent condition.

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