Early Prints c.1615-21

Leoni experimented with making printed portraits in the period around 1615-1620, with plates that were not formally published. It seems to have been only after the election of Pope Gregory XV in February 1621 that Leoni received a papal privilege allowing him to publish his portrait prints.

Tommaso Salini

Image["Object Number P.7912-R"]

Engraving, c.1618

One of five prints of the painter Tommaso (known as Mao) Salini (1575-1625), in which Leoni was perhaps testing ways of drawing a portrait with an engraving tool. They may be Leoni's earliest engravings.

The pose recurs in two of the other prints in the group, and in a drawing dated July 1618 (Albertina, Vienna), which also includes Salini's hat at the bottom. The prints were probably based on the drawing. Leoni also painted Salini's portrait for the Academy of St Luke in Rome.

Salini was witness in the 1603 lawsuit brought by his friend and mentor Giovanni Baglione against Caravaggio. Salini's style was heavily influenced by Caravaggio. His flower paintings (praised by Baglione) were collected by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi.

Given by John Charrington 1933


Tommaso Salini with two other studies
of heads

Image["Object Number P.7914-R"]

Engraving, c.1617-20

The portrait of Salini is close in pose and costume to a drawing of November 1620 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; a less finished version is in the Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence). The date of 1625 added in a later state of the print is probably spurious, and is only known in a posthumous edition of Leoni's prints (with numbers in the top right corner).

The head at lower right is the artist's stepdaughter Maddalena, daughter of Caterina Cucchiaroni, whom Leoni had married on 24 March 1616. The depiction is very similar to a drawing of Maddalena that Leoni made 'at night' by candlelight on 2 February 1617 (Museum of Art, Providence, Rhode Island).

Given by John Charrington 1933


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Image["Object Number P.7913-R"]

Engraving, c.1621

On Leoni's shoulder, partly hidden by a fold, is the cross of a Knight (Cavaliere) of the Cross of Christ, the order granted by Gregory XV in recompense for the portrait that Leoni painted after Gregory's election as pope on 9 February 1621 (Leoni drew his portrait the following day).

This print evidently dates from the same time as the early portrait of Baglione. The engraving style relates to the 1621 portrait of Cavaliere d'Arpino. The twisted pose is unusual for Leoni, whose portraits rarely come this close to implied movement: compare the more formal 1625 self-portrait. The pose recurs in an undated drawing (Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence); a slightly different pose and details are found in another drawing (Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento).

Given by John Charrington 1933


Giovanni Baglione

Image["Object Number P.7915-R"]

Engraving, c.1621

As in the later portrait of Baglione, he wears the cross of a Knight of the Cross of Christ, which he was awarded in 1606. The engraving is probably based on the drawing dated May 1621 (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe), made before Baglione's trip to Mantua. Leoni drew Baglione immediately after he had made a drawing of Cavaliere d'Arpino (Kestner Museum, Hannover), which was probably the basis for Leoni's print of the Cavaliere.

This portrait was evidently made around the same time as the early self-portrait, judging by the format and the style of the engraving. The pair may have been intended as the start of a series of artists' portraits that later became the set of artists in polygonal frames, with new plates of Baglione and Leoni.

Given by John Charrington 1933


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Lodovico Bertuccio (?)

Image["Object Number P.7917-R"]

Engraving, c.1618-20

This seems to be among the earliest of Leoni's prints, characterised by his early engraving style with its relatively loose and open system of modelling form, and sparse, linear description of costume details..

The name of the sitter is assumed from an old inscription on another impression of this print (Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Rome). He is perhaps identifiable with the painter Lodovico Bertucci, who was born in Modena, and worked in Rome specialising in scenes of everyday peasant life and fanciful views.

Given by John Charrington 1933


Three portrait heads

Camillo Graffico, Ercole Pedemonte and Antonio Casone

Image["Object Number P.7918-R"]

Etching, c.1615-1618

This plate, and the study of Four portrait heads, are Leoni's only pure etchings, made by drawing on the plate through wax and immersing in acid. Baglione implies that the asthma and stomach pain that attended Leoni's death were caused by the artist's the adverse effects of the fumes from etching with acid, but Leoni's limited activity as an etcher does not seem to support this claim.

The engraver Camillo Graffico (active c.1587-1614) also appears in the study of Four portrait heads: in both cases the portrait derives from Leoni's drawing made in 1614 (Louvre, Paris).

The miniaturist Ercole Pedemonte (1579-1618) was also observed in a drawing of 1614 (Musée Magnin, Dijon). Leoni apparently used him as a model, with similar headwear, in his painting of Susanna and the Elders (Institute of Arts, Detroit).

Antonio Casone (1559-1634) appears in profile in one of Leoni's undated drawings from this period (Louvre, Paris). He was a maker of small wax figures and an architect whose patrons included the Duke of Bracciano.

Given by John Charrington 1933


Four portrait heads

Cosimo Orsini, Camillo Graffico, Sigismund Laire and Ottavio Leoni

Image["Object Number 3.H.6-24"]

Etching, c.1615-18, in Lord Fitzwilliam's album of Leoni's prints.

This plate, and the study of Three portrait heads, are Leoni's only pure etchings.

These etched plates are like separate head-studies combined on one plate rather than naturalistic group portraits, and they are less formal in character than Leoni's mature portrait engravings, looking rather like pages from a sketchbook.

The identities of the faces on this plate are those given by Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694-1774), with corrections from an inscription written by a seventeenth-century hand on another impression of this print (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

The inscription indicates that Orsini was an 'amateur of painting' - perhaps the Roman nobleman Cosimo Orsini (1578-1638) who was distantly related to the Duke of Bracciano.

The Bavarian miniaturist Sigismund Laire (1553-1639) was in Rome by 1575. His work included painting small wax religious figures that were exported in large numbers by Jesuits missionaries.

The engraver Camillo Graffico also appears in the study of Three portrait heads.

The profile of Leoni on the right shows him younger than in his later self-portraits.

Bequeathed by Lord Fitzwilliam 1816


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The Fitzwilliam Museum : Early prints

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