Giuseppe Scolari (1592-1607)
Giuseppe Scolari (1592-1607)

The Rape of Proserpina (Rosand and Muraro 104B)

Details
Giuseppe Scolari (1592-1607)
The Rape of Proserpina (Rosand and Muraro 104B)
woodcut, circa 1600, on laid paper, a very strong, slightly over- inked impression of the second, final state, trimmed to the borderline, several printer's creases the right, laid down onto an album sheet, two short tears at the left and right sheet edges, otherwise in generally good condition
B., S. 465 x 355 mm.
Provenance
John Barnard (d. 1784), London (L. 1420); probably his posthumous sale, Greenwood, London, 16 February 1787 (and following days).

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Lot Essay

Giuseppe Scolari is regarded as one of the most original masters of the Venetian woodcut tradition. One of the few Italian artists to have both designed and cut his own blocks, his prints are characterised by his expressive use of the burin, knife and chisel to cut long, sweeping lines into a dark ground.

The Rape of Proserpina is Scolari's only non-religious woodcut. It is also one of only two woodcuts that he printed in two different states, modifying the design by removing large portions of the wood and inserting new plugs, which were then re-cut with the compositional revisions. This impression is of the second, final state in which the heads of the horses are substantially reworked to heighten the expressive effect of their rearing forms on the brink of the abyss.

One of his most dynamic compositions, The Rape of Proserpina has been described as a herald of the Baroque aesthetic. As Rosand and Muraro suggest: 'the central group of struggling protagonists - although possibly inspired by Giambologna's Rape of the Sabine - can stand comparison with the early sculptural treatment of the Proserpina theme by Bernini, with which it shares not only the harmonically unified resolution of conflict but also the grand operatic gesture of lament' (D. Rosand and M. Muraro, Titian and the Venetian Woodcut, Washington D.C., 1976, p. 313).
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