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Ludovico Lana

(1597 Codigoro near Ferrara – 1646 Modena)

Saint Sebastian. Etching. 14.1 x 10.9 cm (Oval). B. 12; TIB 42 (Loli) 12 (171); G. Bertelà, Incisori bolognesi ed Emiliani del Seicento, no. 733. Watermark: Circle with hung letters and attached clover leaf.

Ludovico Lana was initially trained by Ippolito Scarsello and later by Guido Reni in Bologna, where he also came into contact with the genius loci Guercino, from whom he drew stylistic inspiration. The latter also exerted considerable influence on Lana’s modest printed oeuvre. From 1619 the artist lived in Modena, where he was court painter to Duke Francesco I d’Este. The few etchings Lana made are all based on his own inventions. This stark, intimate portrayal of Saint Sebastian tied to a tree was attributed in the past to Lorenzo Loli because of the confusing monogram “LL F” and his very similar style. However, a critical stylistic comparison has confirmed that the work is definitely by Lana. In iconographical terms the portrayal shows great originality. The body of the prostrate martyr has been rendered masterfully with free cross-hatching; a single arrow embedded in the saint’s heart heightens the dramatic impact of the scene, which is set against a loosely sketched backdrop. A very fine impression with wide margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in impeccable condition. From the collections of Thomas Graf (Lugt 1092a) and Friedrich Quiring (Lugt 1041c) and thus of excellent provenance.

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