One of the super helpful things about reproductive prints is the practice of including the “address” in which the names of the engraver, the artist of the original composition, the publisher, and maybe the benefactor appear along the bottom of the image. This convention has helped every print-room cataloguer, connoisseur, dealer, collector, scholar, and curator make sense of the thousands and thousands of Old Master prints out there in the world.
The nomenclature can be a bit confusing and some of the abbreviations mean the same things, but here are some terms frequently used in the address:
Cael., caelavit: Engraved by
Cum privilegio: Privilege to publish from some authority
Del., delt., delin., delineavit: Drawn by
Disig., designavit: Designed by
Divulg., divulgavit: Published by
Eng., engd.: Engraved by
Exc., excud., excudit: Printed by or published by
F., fac., fec., fect., fecit, faciebat: Made by
Imp., Impressit: Printed by
Inc,. incidit, incidebat: Incised or engraved by
Inv., invenit, inventor: Designed by or originally drawn by
Lith., litho., lithog.: Lithographed by
Pins., pinxit: Painted by
Scrip., scripsit: Text engraved by
Sc., sculp., sculpt., sculpsit: Image engraved by
In today’s example we have inventor (artist of the original composition), sculpsit (the printmaker/engraver), and excudit (the publisher).
Making all these intricacies clear for today’s audiences is challenging. Our convention is to use the term “after” to indicate that X is the artist of the print, which is reproducing (or after) Y’s composition. Label information (we call it the tombstone information) usually omits the publisher, perhaps because it’s confusing enough as it is.
In a previous post, we were introduced to Geertruydt Roghman, a printmaker best known for her series of five prints of women engaged in daily tasks. Remember, these were her own compositions. She also made reproductive prints such as The Massacre of the Innocents, which is a great example of the address helping us understand the sequence of works.
So, Roghman made an engraving of The Massacre of the Innocents after a print by Aegidius Sadeler. Sadleler’s print reproduced the painting by Jacopo Tintoretto, which is in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice. So Roghman’s print is after Sadeler’s print, which is after Tintoretto’s painting. Don’t you love a twist and a turn?
The subject is the Massacre of the Innocents, the biblical story of Herod who set out to kill every infant boy in Bethlehem knowing one of them would become king of the Jews. The passage is in Matthew (2:16): Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
It's a gruesome story and the image is relentless in its goriness and depravity. To increase the painting’s impact, there is some thought that Tintoretto would have added a plaster forearm to the bottom edge of the canvas where the woman’s arm is cut off—yes, a three-dimensional appendage. Apparently, that was a thing artists would do to enliven their paintings back then. Interestingly, the woman's arm is tucked under her in both of the prints.
So how did Sadeler, a Netherlandish artist, make his copy? Did he travel to Venice to draw from the painting at the Scuola or was a drawing of it sent to him? Perhaps Sadeler made his version after yet another print of Tintoretto’s painting. But Sadeler’s version was published after Tintoretto’s death, meaning it couldn’t have been commissioned by Tintoretto to popularize the composition. Curious.
We don’t know why Roghman made her version either, which is printed in reverse of both the Sadeler print and the Tintoretto painting. Does that suggest it was an exercise for practice? Was it sold in large numbers? It’s not a great and accurate reproduction if it’s backwards, right? What’s more, why make it so long after both Tintoretto and Sadeler were dead? Intriguing.
#printidentification #publishersaddress #sculpsit #oldmasterprints #printsafterprints #Tintoretto #sadeler #roghman #delineavit #excudit
Ann's art blog
A small corner of the interwebs to share thoughts on objects I acquired for the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection, research I've done on Stanley William Hayter and Atelier 17, experiments in intaglio printmaking, and the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair.