July 26, 2005


Further to this recent entry, there follow a few more images scanned from my copy of The Engravings of Marcantonio Raimondi, by Innis Shoemaker and Elizabeth Broun. The following are details: click on them to see the images enlarged and in full.

'Serpent Speaking to a Young Man,' engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, ca. 1505.

The first two images share a curious device: a serpent with a human face. In Adam and Eve, below, this clearly represents the voice of temptation. Although the meaning of Serpent Speaking to a Young Man, (above) is much less clear, it is tempting to suppose that temptation is depicted here too. The second, later engraving shows some refinements in Raimondi’s style, and is certainly a more cohesive composition than the earlier work. The division in Adam and Eve between a richly-detailed foreground and a more lightly-sketched background, apparently betrays the influence of Lucas van Leyden.

'Adam and Eve,' engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, ca. 1512-14.

The engraving below, Two Women with the Signs of Libra and Scorpio, probably derives, like many of Raimondi’s later prints, from a design by Raphael. At some point ca. 1511, Raimondi entered into a partnership with Raphael, as the majority of his prints after that time follow designs or paintings from Raphael’s workshop. Raimondi thereby became the first successful reproductive fine-art engraver, founding a tradition that would last until the advent of photography. By subordinating his work to Raphael’s, however, Raimondi helped cement the reputation of engraving as a secondary and a dependent art.

'Two Women with the Signs of Libra and Scorpio,' engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, ca. 1517-20.

By 1515, Raimondi was successful and busy enough to take on two assistants of his own: Marco Dente da Ravenna, and Agostino Veneziano. The engraving below, Venus Wounded by a Rose’s Thorn, is the work of Dente. Again, a design of Raphael’s is thought to have provided its inspiration. After Raphael’s death in 1520, Raimondi continued a similar working relationship with Giulio Romano, the older painter’s favourite protégé.

'Venus Wounded by a Rose's Thorn,' engraving by Marco Dente da Ravenna, ca. 1516.

Around 1524, Raimondi executed a series of sixteen erotic engravings following designs by Romano, which were circulated as I Modi, (‘the ways,’ i.e. the positions) accompanied by sixteen lewd sonnets by Pietro Aretino. The Papal authorities were displeased: and while Romano managed to leave Rome, and Aretino narrowly avoided a jail sentence, Raimondi went to prison for a couple of years. Not long after his release, there was further misfortune for the engraver in 1527, when his studio was looted during the Sack of Rome. His movements after that time are uncertain, and it is not known if any of his engravings post-date that disaster: some accounts say that he was reduced to poverty, and was obliged to return to his native Bologna, where he died ca. 1534.

Posted by misteraitch at July 26, 2005 09:53 AM

Interesting in the first image that none of the figures seem actually looking at the serpent. The man, who seems the most comprehending of the situation, is utterly buried in his misery and in thought for the consequences of what has happened. The departing woman looks alluringly to him. The other woman is modestly withdrawn. It's as if the serpent doesn't exist in the same space as the figures.

Posted by: paul on July 27, 2005 08:27 AM

raimandi art

Posted by: christine on October 29, 2007 02:41 AM
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