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The Miracle of St. Benedict. Etching. 57.6 x 41.4 cm. 1654. Bartsch 3.
This stirring, turbulent scene is modelled on a painting by Ludovico Carracci in the monastery of San Michele in Bosco in Bologna. Its evocative upright format is impressive. Several men dressed in loincloths are making tremendous efforts to move a massive block of stone, on which the devil is lying. The figure of the naked demon, who is rendered in an abruptly foreshortened manner and radiates a powerful physical presence, is highly expressive. St. Benedict miraculously succeeds in removing the obstacle with a single gesture. The etching has been executed in a very agile, confident manner that is characteristic of Bolognese etching in the Seicento. The author of the work, the painter, etcher and art writer Luigi Scaramuccia, who was trained by his father Giovanni Antonio and Guido Reni, was greatly influenced by Guercino. Scaramuccia was active in Perugia, Bologna, Milan and Rome, where he was made a member of the Accademia San Luca in 1675. Bartsch records just four etchings by the artist.
The present sheet is extremely rare. There is a further impression in the British Museum in London (inv. no. U.1.33). It is not of the same printing quality, however, and trimmed in the upper part of the image. A fine, crisp and slightly inky impression, trimmed to the platemark. Unobtrusive smoothed vertical and horizontal fold on the verso, where there are also occasional thin paper spots, minimal traces of handling, nonetheless a very fine overall impression.
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