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Italian School

c. 1550–75

The Holy Family. Etching. 14.9 x 13.5 cm. Undescribed.

The present etching, not recorded in the critical literature, was first published in 1994 by Karin Orchard and Thomas Röske in the catalogue of the Georg Baselitz Collection. The authors rightly point out the stylistic parallels with the printed work of Orazio de Santis, which are mainly noticeable in various details of the figure style (see Cat. La Bella Maniera. Druckgraphik des Manierismus aus der Sammlung Georg Baselitz, edited by G. Luijten, Bern-Berlin 1994, no. 78, pp. 210–211). On the other hand, the technical treatment of our etching is freer and more fluid, which conveys this compositionally very concentrated scene a thoroughly original character.

The Madonna, with her finely formed face turned to one side and her slender neck, corresponds to a parmigianesque ideal of beauty, while the head of Joseph, with its strong features, curly hair and beard, shows a striking individuality. This sophisticated little print makes clear how multifarious and heterogeneous were the artistic impulses that determined Italian Late Mannerism in the third quarter of the 16th century. Despite the indisputable quality of the etching a convincing attribution has yet to be put forward.

An excellent, tonal impression, mostly with thread margins around the inky platemark, respectively with 8mm wide margins below. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent, untreated condition.

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