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Giovanni B. Castiglione (d.-1665)

Finding the bodies of Saint Peter and Paul

signed and inscribed ‘Castiglione Genovese/ Invent’ (in the plate)
29.5 x 20.4 cm (plate); 42.2 x 27.8 cm (sheet)
Belllini 57, first and only state [1]; Bartsch 14, first and final state [2]
a very fine, atmospheric and delicate impression with plate tone, with fine wiping marks, the abraded area in the left edge appears in all impressions, very broad margins, with two holes from an early binding below the upper sheet edge, there is some discolouration to the paper, especially along the edges, there are some nicks and folds along the edges, the sheet is in otherwise very good condition.

Executed in circa 1647-51, this delicate yet expressive nocturnal print demonstrates Castiglione’s strong interest and admiration for Rembrandt’s etchings. Densely worked out with zig-zag and almost dancing etched lines, the print shows Castiglione’s ability to illuminate his subjects with great expression. The composition depicts the moment that a group of men stumble upon the bodies of Saints Peter and Paul in a vault on the Via Appia near Rome. The vault, with the gruesome and dramatic scene (Saint Peter still holds his key while Saint Paul’s body is headless) is brilliantly lid by a flaming torch. A monotype of almost the same composition in reverse is in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. [3]

[1] P. Bellini, 'L’Opera incisa di Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione', Milan, 1982, p. 152-154, ill.
[2] P. Bellini, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, 46, Italian Masters of the Seventeenth Century', New York, 1985, p.
[3] See Bartsch 121.

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