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Lodovico Mattioli

(1662 Crevalcore – 1747 Bologna)

Il cielo Spagnolo adossato dalla Sapienza alla Fortezza / Macchina da fuochi artificiali ... Etching in brown and black ink. 52.2 x 32,9 cm. 1702. Unrecorded.

The painter and etcher, Lodovico Mattioli, produced a fairly extensive printmaking oeuvre that consisted of works of his own invention as well as works based on designs by various masters, such as the Carraccis, Giuseppe Crespi, Donato Creti and others. The substantial catalogue of his works compiled by Bartsch and Nagler lists religious scenes, several small landscape series and book illustrations. The present depiction of a temporary architectural structure for a fireworks display is based on a drawing by the painter and engraver, Marcantonio Chiarini (1652–1730, Bologna), who was active as a quadratura painter in many Upper Italian cities from 1678. The fireworks were part of the celebrations held in 1712 to mark the arrival in Italy of King Philip V of Spain, who was also King of Sardinia, Sicily and Naples until 1713. Resting on a massive, profiled plinth is an imaginary rocky landscape with the personifications of the rivers Ebro, Tagus and Rhone. A lion climbs up the side of the rock, astride which Hercules and Atlas shoulder the globe. Huge, sheaf-like bursts of fireworks shoot out from the temporary structure. The sheet is treated in a brisk, light etching style entirely in keeping with the Baroque exuberance of the festive event. The etching is of great rarity and not included in the detailed catalogues drawn up by Bartsch and Nagler. There is no impression either in the printroom of the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna (see Incisori Bolognesi ed Emiliani del sec. XVIII, edited by G. Bertelà and S. Ferrara, Bologna 1974). A fine impression with full margins. Minor defects, otherwise in very good condition.

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