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Marco Alvise Pitteri

(1702–1786, Venice)

Profile Portrait of a Young Woman. Engraving after Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. 45 x 34.6 cm. Nagler 48, Ravà 268. Watermark: FC, Bromberg 29 (fragment)

Marco Alvise Pitteri worked all his life in his native Venice, where from about the 1720s he was one of the main producers of prints inspired by the works of his master and close friend, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. He gained special recognition for a series of fifteen large-sized portraits of the Apostles, God the Father and Christ and Mary, applying for a privilege to publish them in 1742. In addition to reproductive engravings after Piazzetta, Pitteri produced other high-quality, technically sophisticated reproductive prints after Pietro Longhi, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Jusepe de Ribera and others. The artist developed a very distinct method of working which involved using rising and subsiding parallel lines of varying thickness which merge to form fine, grid-like patterns, thereby frequently achieving what is known as the Moiré effect. Nagler says that Pitteri “[produced] a significant number of prints in this unorthodox manner which were received with great applause and subsequently emulated”.

The present sensitively observed and masterfully treated profile portrait of a young woman with her head resting nonchalantly on her left hand demonstrates this very interesting effect. Seen from a distance the picture almost seems to flicker and, in doing so, produces a charming chiaroscuro effect. The woman portrayed is in all probability Rosa, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta’s wife, whose portrait occurs again and again in the master’s oeuvre. A superb, succinct and slightly tonal impression with wide margins. Literature: Maria Agnese Chiari Moretto Wiel (ed.), L’eredità di Piazzetta: volti e figure nell’incisione del Settecento, exh. cat. Venice, Palazzo Ducale, Venice 1996, p. 75, no. 143.

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