Istituto di Storia dell'Arte / Atlante delle Xilografie italiane del Rinascimento


definizione: stampa


titolo parallelo: Virgin and Child
 with Saint John the Baptist


Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mary Stansbury Ruiz Bequest, Department of Prints and Drawings



sec. XVI, secondo quarto
1527 ca. - 1530 ca.



stato unico


xilografia; chiaroscuro; mm 190 x 235 ca., ; mm 212 x 257 ca.
materia del supporto: carta








Chiaroscuro woodcut from 2 blocks, light green/gray, only state

The attribution of this unsigned print was first proposed by Giorgio Vasari, who listed it among the four that Antonio da Trento produced in close collaboration with Parmigianino between 1527 and 1530 (the other three are Martyrdom of Two Saints, ALU.0957.1, Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl, ALU.0954.1, and Nude Man Seen from Behind, ALU.0958.1; see Vasari-Bettarini and Barocchi. Landau and Parshall noted that Vasari’s “word can be believed in this case, since he was in Bologna in 1529 for the preparations of the coronation of Charles V). The woodcut depicts an intimate grouping of the Madonna holding the Christ child, with the young Saint John the Baptist to one side. The figures are arranged in a shallow space, enclosed in an oval surrounded by a rectangular border. Parmigianino’s preliminary drawing of the composition shows the figures without the background of lush foliage (Gnann 2008. A loosely rendered drawing in the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, that is close to the composition’s final appearance and similarly enclosed in an oval was published by Harprath 1974; see Ekserdjian 2006). As with Antonio’s other chiaroscuro woodcuts produced in Bologna, there is no known model of the complete design, lending support to the hypothesis that Parmigianino drew the composition directly on the woodblocks (Popham 1969).

Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist typifies the competent cutting and controlled printing technique associated with early impressions of the chiaroscuro woodcuts Antonio produced with Parmigianino. The present impression is rendered in a relatively low-contrast, pastel palette achieved by printing a gray line block over a light green tone block. Antonio favored palettes of browns, blues, greens, ochres, and pinks, often featuring tints of these hues; and he frequently used gray rather than black for the line block to obtain an understated, pale effect. His inks are matte with very finely ground pigments and are usually printed in thin, translucent films that exhibit a slight squash or channeled squash. These well-formulated inks, combined with controlled printing, crisply delineate the fine webs of hatching and cross-hatching present in his prints.

The sheer green ink of the present impression is composed of well-refined indigo (blue) and orpiment (yellow) pigments. The same colorants are found in an impression of Antonio’s Nude Man Seen from Behind (LoC FP-XVI-A635, no. 12 (A size) and in Ugo da Carpi’s Diogenes (on the instrumental analysis of these three prints, see Stiber Morenus et al. 2015). Analytical study of the present Virgin and Child with Saint John and LACMA’s Diogenes M.2001.176 also discovered the same unusual combination of orpiment and carbon black in the darkest block’s gray ink. The addition of orpiment to the carbon black creates a lighter, warmer, less opaque hue. The gray ink contributes a more tonally unified, atmospheric quality. Antonio and Parmigianino undoubtedly sought out these effects, which they also achieved by changing the order of block printing. Though the majority of Antonio’s chiaroscuro woodcuts were printed from lightest to darkest inks, there are abundant examples showing an inverse order of printing, apparently prompted by this interest in the aesthetics of a muted palette (for example ALU.0954.1; one such example of Virgin and Child with Saint John in a celadon green tone block over a gray line block is Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-31.207). In all of these refinements of printing and ink quality, Antonio’s technique is similar to Ugo’s materials and methods, pointing to a close working relationship between these printmakers under Ugo’s experienced direction (on the interrelation of these printmakers, see Stiber Morenus 2015).

Naoko Takahatake, The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy, exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June-September 2018, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C, October 2018-January 2019, DelMonico Books/Prestel, Munich-London-New York, 2018, pp. 104-105.

Other impressions:

-Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-31.208: olive/black -Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-31.207: light green/gray -Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-31.209 light green/black (wmk: hand and flower) -Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-31.210: light green/black (wmk: IV in circle)

-ENSBA Est Mas 49: olive/gray (wmk: small anchor in circle)

-Courtauld: G.1978.PG.34: light blue/black (wmk: orb with cross)

-MMA 22.67.71: orange (wmk: orb with cross)

-Achenbach 1963.30.699: light blue/gray

-Library of Congress: blue/black (wmk: IV in circle)

-MFA 1975.570: olive/gray (wmk: hand and flower) -MFA 1975.567: tan/black (early) -MFA 21.10806: olive/black -MFA 1975.569: mint/gray -MFA M8896: yellow/black -MFA 1975.568: brown/black (break in block) -MFA P1646: olive/black (wormhole) -MMA 20.56.4: light gray-green

-MMA olive -MMA light brown (late) -MMA 22.67.72: gray/beige

-Munich 12126: brown/black (late)

-Frankfurt 33949: light brown/black

-NGA 1982.18.1: light brown/black -NGA 1982.40.14: light green/gray

-BM 1884,0726.5: green/black -BM 1851,0308.1033: light brown/black -BM 1890,0415.124: lavendar/black -BM W,4.38: light green/black -BM W,4.40: light brown/black -BM W,4.37: brown/black

-BnF BD 5 Mazzuoli: beige/black -Budapest 6222: dark brown

-Budapest 6221: colors unclear (sheet very damaged)

-Chatsworth vol IV, fol 21, no 29: light green/black

-Cleveland: 1923.73: light green/gray

-Escorial: 28-1-19, fol. 105 (3): brown/black (late)

-Harvard G7522: light green/black -Harvard M9902: yellow/brown

-Marucelliana XXXV, 6: olive/black (late)

-GDSU 109 st. sc: gray-brow/dark gray

-Yale 1944.104: light brown/black (late)

-PMA 1985-52-2125: yellow/black|16 -PMA 1985-52-2084: pink/black|20 -PMA 1985-52-337: olive/gray|35 -PMA 1985-52-183: red-brown/black|17 -PMA 1985-52-168: gray/black|19 -PMA 1985-52-103: purple-gray/black|18

-ETH D.53: olive/gray

-Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich

-Albertina DG2002/428: orange-brown/black (late)[DG2002%2f428]&showtype=record -Albertina DG2002/427: light green/gray[DG2002%2f427]&showtype=record -Albertina DG2002/429: yellow/black[DG2002%2f429]&showtype=record -Albertina DG2002/426: brown/black[DG2002%2f426]&showtype=record

-Chicago AIC 1928.585: light brown/black

-Fondation Custodia inv 4548: light brown/black

-Baselitz (Gnann, no. 71): light green/black

-Kirk Edward Long Collection

-Milano, Ambrosiana (inv. 19571): yellow/black -Milano, Ambrosiana (inv. 12451): light purple?/gray:

-Hamburg, Kunsthalle inv. 1179


tipologia: fotografia digitale
ente proprietario: Los Angeles, LACMA ©


Bartsch A., Le peintre graveur, Vienne, 1803-1821, v. XII, p. 56, n. 12


Popham A.E., "Observations on Parmigianino's designs for Chiaroscuro woodcuts", Miscellanea I. Q. van Regteren Altena, Amsterdam, 1969, pp. 48-51, p. 49
Harprath R., "Drei neue Zeichnungen von Parmigianino", Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 1974, pp. 370-378, pp. 376–77, g. 7
Vasari G. - Bettarini R./ Barocchi P., Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568, Firenze, 1966-1987, v. 4, pp. 539–43; v. 5, pp. 15–16
Landau D./ Parshall P., The Renaissance Print 1470-1550, New Haven-London, 1994, p. 155
Ekserdjian D., Parmigianino, New Haven, 2006, p. 222, nota 60
, Parmigianino und sein Kreis: Druckgraphicaus der Sammlung Baselitz, Munich, 2008, p. 171
Stiber Morenus L./ Eng C.W./ Takahatake N./ Rambaldi D.C., "Sixteenth -and Seventeenth- Century Italian Chiaroscuro Woodcut: Instrumental Analysis, Degradation and Conservation", in Journal of the American Institute of Conservation, 2015, pp. 238-271, pp. 243–45, 254
Stiber Morenus L., "The chiaroscuro woodcut printmaking of Ugo da Carpi, Antonio da Trento and Niccolò Vicentino: technique in relation to artistic style", Printing colour 1400 - 1700, Leiden, 2015, 123-139, pp. 124–30
Takahatake N., The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy, Los Angeles, 2018, pp. 104-105 (Stiber Morenus L.), p. 104


Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA., June - September 2018 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., October 2018 - January 2019, 2018-2019


Stiber Morenus L., 2020
Stiber Morenus L., Atlante delle xilografie italiane del Rinascimento, ALU.0961.1,, ISBN 978-88-96445-24-2


Battagliotti L., 2023
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