GIUSEPPE NICCOLÒ VICENTINO

b. Vicenza – active Rome and Bologna, ca. 1525–50

The Virgin and Child with Saints Sebastian and Geminianus (?) (after Parmigianino) ca. 1530–40, printed 1605


chiaroscuro woodcut from four blocks; 408 x 308 mm (16 x 12 inches)

Bartsch, vol. 12, p. 66, no. 26 second state (of two)

WATERMARK
sun in circle (cf. Woodward 152, documented Perugia, ca. 1595)

PROVENANCE
unidentified collector’s mark (similar to Lugt 1045b)

LITERATURE
Michael Matile, Italienische Holzschnitte der Renaissance und des Barock. Bestandskatalog der Graphischen Sammlung der ETH Zürich, Basel 2003, p. 152/154, cat. no. 65 Achim Gnann, In Farbe! Clair-obscur-Holzschnitte der Renaissance. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Georg Baselitz und der Albertina in Wien, exhibition catalogue, 2013–14, pp. 212–214, nos. 98–99

When Andreani reprinted the blocks for this image in 1605 he not only added his name and date in the lower-right corner, but he also carved the monogram f.bv on the top of the capital just below the bishop’s right hand in the foreground. Bartsch recognized that the three letters stand for “Francesco Barozzio Urbinas.” However, Andreani, more than half a century after the blocks were made, had misidentified the model for the print. It is not based on a work by Federico Barocci but rather on a drawing by Parmigianino now in the Louvre and that Gnann dates to the artist’s early Bolognese years between 1527 and 1528 (ill. in Gnann, p. 212, fig. 56). It should be noted, however, that the drawing is in the same direction. Furthermore, the attribution of the Louvre drawing to Parmigianino is not completely undisputed. Sylvie Béguin, for example, suggested Niccolò dell’Abate as a possible author (cf. Matile’s footnote p. 152, n. 349). The bishop in the foreground cannot be identified with certainty either; he is thought to be either St. Geminianus, the patron saint of Modena, or St. Petronius, the patron saint of Bologna. If the latter were correct, the model in the bishop’s hands might be seen as referring to Petronius’s architectural endeavors since he is known to have initiated the building of S. Stefano in Bologna as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Michael Matile tentatively suggests an attribution of the woodcut to Vicentino. This is fully endorsed by Achim Gnann. He admits that the very subtle, painterly quality of the print is related to The Miraculous Draught of Fishes—a work that he firmly attributes to Ugo da Carpi (see the previous cat. no.). He nevertheless points to a certain lack of plasticity (plastische Substanz) here in comparison to Ugo’s prints. This relates to the individual figures—although St. Sebastian’s pose is based on that of one of the two sons of Laocoön in the famous antique Roman sculpture—but also to the composition as a whole. As Gnann writes, the color of the background does not denote a space but a two-dimensional plane onto which the figures seem merely to have been tacked.