Nov 20, 2007

Saint Peter

Saint Peter

c. 1547

Domenico Beccafumi

(Italian, 1486–1551)

Chiaroscuro woodcut printed in four shades of brown

Support: Laid paper, lined overall with heavy wove paper

Sheet: 41.2 x 21.4 cm (16 1/4 x 8 7/16 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2002.9

Catalogue raisonné: Bartsch vol XII, p. 71, no. 14; Passavant vol. VI, pp.150-1, no. 5



Beccafumi was an important and extremely versatile Sienese artist––a painter of altarpieces, frescoes, and furniture, a sculptor in wood, stucco, and bronze, and a designer of a large portion of the inlaid marble floor in the Siena Cathedral. He was also one of the most imaginative, daring, and versatile printmakers of the Italian Renaissance. Although his first prints were engravings, in order to reproduce the rich, tonal effects of his drawings, Beccafumi began to make chiaroscuro woodcuts. Around 1547, he completed a series of six chiaroscuros of the apostles, including Saint Peter. These are the artist's most skillful, complex, and successful prints, and among the most extraordinary color prints in 16th-century Italy. The blocks were carved and printed in an innovative manner. In order to attain the brilliant highlights common in his chiaroscuro drawings, Beccafumi created the effect of thin white hatching lines on a dark ground. He also treated each impression as a separate work of art.

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