Annibale Carracci (Italian, Bolognese, 15601609)
Engraving printed in brown ink; Plate: 9 15/16 x 9 15/16 in. (25.3 x 25.3 cm) (in diameter); sheet: 12 15/16 x 11 1/8 in. (32.8 x 28.2 cm); mount: 13 15/16 x 11 1/8 in. (35.4 x 28.2 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1927 (188.8.131.52)
At the same time that Annibale was decorating the Palazzo Farnese in Rome with spirited frescoes, including a Bacchic procession, he and his brother Agostino were asked to create two engraved silver vessels. While Agostino never completed hisperhaps due to the reported quarrels that arose between the brothersthe decorated section of Annibale's cup, or tazza, survives in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, along with a matching silver bread plate engraved by Francesco Villamena (ca. 15651624) that duplicates Annibale's design for the figure group.
The print above was likely made directly from the silver cup. We know that impressions were taken from Annibale's tazza in the eighteenth century, when it belonged to the royal court in Naples. The print dealer and connoisseur Pierre-Jean Mariette (16941774) recorded his receipt of one, produced using a method he himself had devised. The difficulties of printing lay in the slight curve of the surface and the interference of the rim, which prevented the silver object from being run through a press as was normally required to force the ink from the engraved lines onto the paper. Mariette noted that the result had some neigeuse passages but that this was inevitable. Such a "snowy" or blurry quality is apparent in the lower border