Author: Pietro Aretino
Printmaker: Cutting attributed to Giovanni Britto (German, active Venice, 1536–50)
Publisher: Francesco Marcolini da Forli (Italian, Forli ca. 1500–after 1559 Venice)
Published in: Venice
Date: January 23, 1537
Medium: Printed book with woodcut illustrations
Dimensions: 7 5/8 x 5 13/16 x 5/16 in. (19.4 x 14.7 x 0.8 cm)
Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937
Accession Number: 37.37.2
Rosand and Muraro (1976, pp. 191; 194-45, no. 42), plausibly attribute the cutting to Britto, who produced another woodcut for Marcolini in1536 and is known to have had associations with both Titian and Aretino. In 1550 for example he produced a woodcut based on a self-portrait by Titian and persuaded Aretino to write a sonnet praising the woodcut.
The woodcut perfectly illustrates the conceit of the poem, depicting the poet Aretino as a rustic shepherd, singing to his love, Angela Sirena, who appears as a winged siren in the heavens. These poems of praise were not well received by the husband and family of the woman Aretino admired. Her death in 1540 has been attributed to the troubles she experienced after being singled out in this way by the notorious Aretino.