The Genius of Castiglione

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto) (Italian, Genoa 1609–1664 Mantua)

Published by Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi (Italian, Rome 1627–1691 Rome)
dedicated to Matthys van de Merwede, Lord of Clootwyck (Dutch, ca. 1625–after 1677)
ca. 1645–47, published 1648
14 x 9 5/8 in. (35.5 x 24.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1917
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Castiglione made some sixty etchings, characterized by the lively handling and highly personal content present throughout his work. He was influenced by Anthony van Dyck, in whose studio he worked in Genoa, and later by the etchings of Rembrandt, just a few years his senior, working in Amsterdam. Castiglione etched this autobiographical image in Genoa and brought the plate to Rome in 1647; it was published in 1648. The seated young man holding a trumpet and a book represents Fame, also alluded to by the putto holding a trumpet and pointing to a laurel wreath. The rabbit and the basket with birds symbolize fruitfulness. The palette and brushes and the music on the ground refer to the arts, although their place on the ground and the crumpled state of the sheet of music suggest a pessimistic hint at the futlility of human accomplishment. Further, although the base supporting a bust is sculpted with laurel, it is overgrown with grass. "The Genius of Castiglione" was dedicated to Matthys van de Merwede, Lord of Clootwyck, a Dutch nobleman and patron of the arts who lived in Italy from 1647 to 1650.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: [all in the plate]: [on book]: Genium Io: / Benedicti / Castilionis / Ianuen/ Inu. Fe.; [on music]: HO VI PAR Potto / CHE SARA; [below]: Si vendono in Roma da Gio: Iacomo de Rossi. 1648; [at lower right]: Ills.o atq. Orn.mo / D. Ma: / Da Meruhe Dño de / Clootuijck bonar Artium / Maecenati dignissimo / Jo: Jacobus De Rubeis D.D.D.

  • Provenance

    Earls of Pembroke (British, Wilton House, near Salisbury, Wiltshire)

  • Catalogue Raisonné

    Bartsch XXI.22.23

  • See also