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Round Portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Engraving. D. 9,9 cm. Hollstein 78 II.
A versatile artistic personality who worked as an architect, writer, painter, draughtsman and printmaker, Lambert Suavius belonged to the group of humanists in Liège centred around Lambert Lombard, who was both his teacher and brother-in-law. Having undergone further training in Italy, the artist worked first in Liège and then, from the 1550s onwards, in Antwerp and Frankfurt. He produced a series of reproductive engravings after designs by his teacher Lombard, but he also made engravings after inventions of his own. Suavius must have quickly made a name for himself as an engraver, since his work received praise from none other than Vasari in his Vite.
The present, very rare Portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti arose as a companion piece to two same-sized medallion portraits of Albrecht Dürer and Lambert Lombard (Hollstein 75, 76). It bears the date 1561 and was thus made during the lifetime of the Italian Renaissance master. The outstanding feature of this small print is its intense psychological characterisation. Suavius employs a highly nuanced, finely meshed engraving technique to effect a subtle surface treatment. The filigree network of narrow and varied hatching patterns is remarkable for the fineness of the lines. The artist was undoubtedly familiar with the engravings made by Giorgio Ghisi, who had worked for the Antwerp publisher, Hieronymous Cock, a few years before this sheet arose; the technical brilliance apparent in Suavius’ engraving style is closely related to the method employed by the Mantuan master. A fine, even impression with thread margins around the image. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.
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