Istituto di Storia dell'Arte / storiaartexilografie


definizione: stampa


identificazione: Apostoli: San Pietro
titolo parallelo: Saint Peter


Londra, British Museum, Prints and Drawings


tipo acquisizione: donazione


data uscita: 1945


sec. XVI, secondo quarto
1540 ca. - 1549 ca.



Niccolò Vicentino, 1510 ca./ post 1566 (bottega)


xilografia; chiaroscuro; mm 154 x 105 ca.
materia del supporto: carta








Chiaroscuro woodcut from 3 blocks, light brown, medium brown, black

Although Bartsch listed twelve prints in the chiaroscuro woodcut series of Apostles after Parmigianino, only ten are known (B.XII.69.1-70.12; Saint Bartholomew and Saint James the Less are untraced). In seven of these prints, an attribute clearly identifies the depicted saint. This is the case for Saint Simon, who is shown holding a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom. Parmigianino's drawing for Saint Simon is now lost, but we can infer a great deal about its appearance from six preparatory drawings for the Apostle series in the Louvre (Andrew, inv. 6487/1), John the Evangelist, inv. 6487/2, Matthew, inv. 6487/3, Paul, inv. 6487/4, Philip, inv. 6488/2, and Judas Thaddaeus, inv. 6488/3. See Popham 1971, vol. 1, pp. 156–57, nn. 468–71, 473–74; vol. 2, pl. 167–68. Parmigianino made a number of additional related studies, in some cases making more than one drawing of the same apostle, such as the Uffizi drawing for Saint Andrew. See Popham 1971, vol. 1, p. 71, n. 96; vol. 2, pl. 169).
Generally dated to Parmigianino's years in Bologna (Popham 1971, vol. 1, p. 16; Ekserdjian 2006; Serra in Parmigianino. Dessins du Louvre 2015. Gnann 2007, however, places the drawings earlier to Parmigianino's Roman period), these small, delicately executed pen and brown wash drawings feature the saints in a variety of attitudes, each rendered in isolation and draped in voluminous garments. The chiaroscuro woodcuts, which maintain the relative size and orientation of the drawings, were likely executed without Parmigianino's immediate participation. In fact, working at a remove from the artist, the chiaroscurist might have had limited access to all twelve drawings. This could explain why the series remained incomplete.
An anonymous etcher, who inscribed twenty-six plates after Parmigianino's designs with the initials FP, executed the complete series of twelve Apostles. In his etchings, the Master FP places each figure in an outdoor setting, substituting grassy terrain for the simple horizon lines of the drawings (B.XVI.20.2-22.13). The anonymous printmaker may in fact have taken inspiration, if not instruction, from Parmigianino himself, who included similar landscape details in his own related etchings, Saint James the Major and Saint Philip (B.XVI.11.8 and .9; Parmigianino may have made these etchings with plans to execute an entire series, and upon abandoning the project, turned it over to the Master FP. See Popham 1971, vol. 1, p. 16). In contrast, the chiaroscuro woodcuts transcribe the drawings without elaboration, representing each saint on a neutral ground.
Bartsch believed that Antonio da Trento was responsible for the chiaroscuro Apostles. Although Popham questioned this attribution and Ugo has been proposed as an alternative, Antonio's authorship of the series has generally been accepted (an attribution to Ugo was proposed in Mariette, Kolloff and Copertini). Both the cutting and three-block design distribution strategy used for the Apostles share some a nities with Antonio's Martyrdom of Two Saints (ALU.0957.1). However, when dealing with prints of small size that rely directly on carefully worked up modelli, it is extremely difficult to make an attribution based on cutting technique alone. In the case of the Apostles, the printing characteristics and publishing histories point to the workshop of Niccolò Vicentino.

ALU.0973.1, in light and medium olive green and umber brown inks, was issued in an edition early in Vicentino's workshop activity (this palette is the second in Stiber Morenus's chronology of multi-woodcut editions. Twelve other compositions recorded in these inks are discussed in Stiber Morenus 2015). In this sheet, and throughout the edition, pigments are coarsely ground and the uneven dispersal of the green particles in the binder is readily visible. Because a relatively high amount of binder was used in the inks, the edges of the printed forms appear soft. Moreover, this liquid ink, which was abundantly and unevenly applied, flowed into some of the cut out areas of the blocks and slightly obscured the design.

The Apostles series appears to have been printed in large numbers and in a great variety of ink palettes. Its evident success reflects the increased commercialization of the technique ushered in by the Vicentino workshop in the 1540s. The Apostles have been associated with Marcantonio Raimondi's so-called santini, a series of small engraved saints after Raphael's designs that Vasari described as models for young artists (Gnann 2013, Vasari-Bettarini and Barocchi). Doubtless, the chiaroscuro Apostles would have been appreciated and collected because they conveyed Parmigianino's graceful designs; as works of modest scale and devotional nature, the series must have contributed to diversifying and broadening the audience for the chiaroscuro woodcut as well.

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. 146-147.

Impressions issued by the Vicentino Workshop:

-BM 1895,0122.1280: verdigris greens/black
-Berlin 988-19: mustard/brown/black
-Berlin 454-22: verdigris
-BnF Réserve EA39: red
-BnF BD 5 Mazzuoli: orange
-Frankfurt 33887: red
-Marucelliana XXV, 154:red
-MFA 64.1049: light brown/blue/black
-Albertina DG2002/441: greens
-Albertina DG2002/442: purple

Impressions issued by the the Ladder in a Shield Printer in light brown/brown/black:

-BM 1918,0713.1 (possibly)

Impressions issued by the the Printer of Greek Text in orange/brown/black:

-Saint Peter (Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-31.219)


tipologia: fotografia digitale
ente proprietario: London, British Museum ©
note: Creative Commons


Bartsch A., Le peintre graveur, Vienne, 1803-1821, v. XII, p. 69, n. 1
Kolloff E., "Antonio da Trento", Allgemeines Kűnstler-Lexiikon, 1878, v. 2, p. 152, nn. 7–19
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. 5, p. 12


Mariette P.J., Abecedario de P. J. Mariette et autres notes inédites de cet amateur sur les arts et les artistes, Paris, 1853-1860, v. 3, p. 304
Copertini G., Il Parmigianino, Parma, 1932, v. 2, p. 47, n. 7
Popham A.E., Catalogue of the drawings of Parmigianino, New Haven, 1971, v. 1, pp. 16, 71, 156–57, nn. 96, 468–71, 473–74
Ekserdjian D., Parmigianino, New Haven, 2006, pp. 235–236
Gnann A., Parmigianino. Die Zeichnungen, Petersberg, 2007, v. 1, p. 174, 194, 337 n. 774
Gnann A., In Farbe! Clair-obscur-Holzschnitte der Renaissance - Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Georg Baselitz und der Albertina in Wien, Monaco, 2013, p. 154, nn. 62–70
, Parmigianino. Dessins du Louvre, Parigi/ Milano, 2015, p. 126, nn. 40–43 (Serra R.)
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. 130–139
Takahatake N., The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy, Los Angeles, 2018, pp. 146-147 (Stiber Morenus L./ Takahatake N.)



Stiber Morenus L./ Takahatake N., 2020
Stiber Morenus L./ Takahatake N., Atlante delle xilografie italiane del Rinascimento, ALU.0964.1,