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Michele Greco

(or Grecchi, known as Lucchese, active in Rome between 1534 and 1564)

Moses Strikes at a Rock, from which Water Gushes. Engraving. 27.6 x 42.2 cm. Nagler, Die Mono­grammisten, IV, 1977, 1 I (of II); Passavant VI, 104, 2 (Ecole Romaine de Marc Antoine).

The name of the painter, engraver and publisher, Michele Greco, first appeared in 1534 in the register of the Accademia di S. Luca in Rome; in 1551 he was listed as a painter. Greco mostly made reproductive engravings after prominent artists of his time, such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Polidoro da Caravaggio and Baccio Bandinelli, which explains the considerable documentary value of his prints. Greco’s printed oeuvre, which arose between 1547 and 1564, is not included in Adam von Bartsch’s Peintre-Graveur and only sketchily described in the later literature.

The present extremely rare engraving is based on a drawing by Polidoro da Caravaggio, now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. The composition is enlivened by the many figures, its compact structure and a wealth of delightful anecdotal details, all of which are rendered with great accuracy and variety, while Greco’s simple, rough etching technique emphasises the contours of the individual protagonists and rock formations and produces a striking chiaroscuro effect. A fine instance of the detail is the little dog clambering cautiously down the slope on a narrow path.

A superb, rich, early impression, before the artist’s monogram and before the address of Lafreri. Before the reworking with the burin, in which the rocks in the right foreground and the rocky landscape in the background were covered over with additional narrow hatching. With thread margins around the framing line. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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