Madonna and Child. 1722.
Antonio Maria Zanetti The Elder
* 1680 in Venice † 1757 in Venice
Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks in blue-green and black ink and mounted on an album sheet with a wash-line border. Size of sheet: 14.1 x 8.5 cm.
Signed with monogram on block lower left: P.AMZ.
Literature: Bartsch 6;
T.I.B. vol. 48, 006.
After a drawing by Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, 1503 Parma – 1540 Casalmaggiore).
The technique of chiaroscuro woodcut involves the superimposition of several wood blocks to create prints with tonal gradation and was used in sixteenth century Italy and Germany, particularly for the reproduction of wash drawings by Parmigianino and Raphael. In the eighteenth century there was a revival of interest in the technique in London, Paris and Venice. The Venetian collector and printmaker Anton Maria Zanetti the Elder was at the centre of this revival. In 1721 he travelled to London where he bought 130 drawings by Parmigianino that had been in the collection of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1585-1646). He also admired the chiaroscuro woodcuts in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire. On his return to Venice he began to experiment with the technique himself, and made prints after the Parmigianino’s drawings he had bought in London. His correspondence is rich with references to his experiments in the medium.
In the 1730s Zanetti began issuing 39 prints as a set with a chiaroscuro frontispiece entitled the Diversarum Iconum together with a portrait etching of Zanetti by Faldoni after Rosalba Carriera, and occasionally etchings by Zanetti, Faldoni and Andrea Zucchi. After about 1742 Zanetti reissued the set as the Raccolta di varie stampe a chiaroscuro, with an additional 30 woodcuts and etchings by Tiepolo. The present print belongs to a set consistent with the contents of the Diversarum Iconum, though the titlepage and portrait print are not present, and the album had been rebound in the twentieth century and is now dismantled. Many of Zanetti's prints are dedicated to gentlemen and collectors presumably interested in his work, and build up a rich picture of Zanetti's network.