The Sacrifice of Iphigenia

Pietro Testa (Italian, Lucca 1612–1650 Rome)
Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi (Italian, Rome 1627–1691 Rome)
ca. 1640–42
Etching with drypoint
Plate: 14 11/16 x 18 1/8 in. (37.3 x 46 cm)
Sheet: 15 1/4 x 18 3/4 in. (38.8 x 47.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1926
Accession Number:
Not on view
The Mycenaean king Agamemnon was chosen, together with his brother Menelaus—Helen's aggrieved husband—to lead the Greeks in the war against Troy, but unfavorable winds prevented the ships from setting sail. Consulting a seer, the soldiers learned that Agamemnon had offended Diana by killing a doe sacred to the goddess, who could be appeased only through the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia. The girl was lured from home with a false promise of marriage to Achilles, depicted at right, who was angered that his name had been used to deceive her and offered to fight on her behalf. Although the maiden instead heroically consented to the sacrifice, the goddess took pity on her: shrouding the site, Diana substituted a deer and carried off Iphigenia.
The copper plate for the print is in the Calcografia Nazionale in Rome (inv.989). A painting of the same subject by Testa (with minor differences) is in the Galleria Spada in Rome (inv. 312).
Inscription: Lettered 'PT pix et sculp' on the foot of the step at lower left and above with later address 'Si stampano per Gio Jacomo de Rossi in Roma alla Pace'. Traces of burnished out text along bottom (possibly indicating a state between the first and second). Number '56' in pen and ink beneath print.
John Edward Rudge (British); Vendor: E. Parsons & Sons (British)
Cropper 61.iii; Bellini 51.18.iii; Bartsch XX.221.23
Adam von Bartsch Le Peintre graveur. Vienna, 1803.

Paolo Bellini L'opera incisa di Pietro Testa. Vicenza, 1976.

Elizabeth Cropper Pietro Testa, 1612-1650: Prints and Drawings. Philadephia, 1988.