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Jacopo Palma

(circa 1548–1628, Venice)

Allegory of Painting and Sculpture. Etching. 15.2 x 17.3 cm. Circa 1611. Bartsch XVI, 291, 17; Nagler 16; Catherine Whistler, ‘Learning to Draw in Venice: The Role of Drawing Manuals’, Una Roman D’Elia (ed.), Rethinking Renaissance Drawings: Essays in Honour of David McTavish, Montreal, Kingston, London, Chicago: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015, pp. 121–136, p. 125, fig. p. 129.

The present print by Jacopo Palma, called Il Giovane, served as the frontispiece for Giacomo Franco’s drawing manual De Excellentia et Nobilitate Delineationis Libri Duo (Venice, 1611). As Walther Heil pointed out in ‘Palma Giovane als Zeichner’, Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen, Vol. 47, 1926, p. 62, both Bartsch and later authors such as Nagler had no knowledge of this publication and cited the print merely as part of the first volume of the Regole per imparar a disegnar i corpi humani published by Marco Sadeler in Venice in 1636 and republished in 1659. A drawing kept in the National Galleries of Scotland (inventory no. D 1173) probably served as a preliminary sketch for the etching. Catherine Whistler has recently pointed out that Palma appears to have given particular emphasis in this composition to visual contrasts: male-female, nude-dressed, etc. This reinforces the assumption that the composition should be seen in the context of the paragone debate, i.e. whether painting or sculpture is the superior artistic discipline. By associating the print’s composition with these more erudite, theoretical debates Palma ‘was situating Franco’s manual in the social and literary context of a gentleman’s library’ (Whistler 2015, p. 125). A very fine, crisp and contrasting impression, printed with a delicate veil of tone. With narrow margins. Minor defects, otherwise in perfect condition. From the collection Ernest Théophile Devaulx (Lugt 670).

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