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Holy  likewise  to

the  Roman  Catholic & the  Byzantine  Church

Onuphrius  of  Egypt

Cornelis Cort, St. Onuphrius with the rosary in a landscape

Patron  also  of  Weavers & Jurists

Cort, Cornelis (Hoorn 1533 – Rome 1578). St. Onuphrius with the rosary in a landscape. In large rocky wooded landscape front right the long-haired + long-bearded saint dressed with loincloth and shawl with the rosary dangling from his left – as everything typical for him, though here not marked by emaciation – communing with Christ crucified. Laid down beside him folio and smaller book. The small crucifix fixed to a stump. On the left small cascade. Engraving with etching after Girolamo Muziano (Acquafredda near Brescia 1528/32 – Rome 1592). Inscribed: in the subject lower left Corneli cort fe. + right PRIVILEGIO.D.GREG.PP..XIII / Hieronimo mvcian.inu. 1574 + in the lower platemark In Roma presso Carlo Losi l’anno 1774. 51.8 x 38.3 cm.

From Wurzbach Cort 33; Nagler III, p. 126, and, Muziano, X, p. 87; AKL XXI, pp. 341 f.

Hollstein 119, IV. – From the set of the Seven Large Landscapes with saints

– “ masterpieces  and  rarely  in  good  impressions ” –

(Nagler 1836), “known under the name of the penitent”, worked “at the personal request of Muziano … with C. not being concerned with the publication any further …

doubtless  his  most  popular  and  most  frequently  published  engravings ”

(AKL 1999), here then in Losi’s evenly fine impression to whom are owed from the 1770s yet further new editions of the 16th century, with invariably fine differentiated setting off of the heroic landscape staggered into the depth. – On strong laid paper with twice enclosed watermark Fleur-de-lis in circle with letter pendants, related to the extensive group Heawood 1589 ff. as throughout Italian papers of the 16th to late 18th centuries. – Margins on three sides 2-2.5 cm wide, below only 5 mm and here on the left up into the wide white platemark somewhat age-creased with acid-freely backed tiny(est) tears. Free of tears, but slightly creased also the right half of the wide white upper margin. – Smoothed centerfold with from front only feebly perceptible brown trace outer left. Otherwise foxspottedness on the back and on the front in the left white margin. In such a manner of positively still fine general impression as frequently searched for in vain with these large formats of old prints, furthermore standing for Cort’s fame beginning  with  the  arrival  1565  at  Tizian’s  in Venice.

“ All (his) mentioned early (Dutch) works … are rather anxious in the stroke of lines … and barely foreshadow

the  excellent  artist  who  in  Italy  short  time  later

– comparable to Girard Audran 100 years later: “Before his departure to Rome in 1666 (only) few works … are worth mentioning … far from the pictorial and grandiose effect of the ‘Batailles d’Alexandre’ … One can hardly imagine more beautiful engravings”, Thieme-Becker II (1908), 239 –

created  his  works  exemplary  for  a  whole  generation  of  engravers .

But C. already must have enjoyed a significant reputation … otherwise Tizian hardly would have entrusted him with the reproduction of his most important works (the paintings for the emperor; recte this was, as documented by AKL, recommended to him by Lampsonius [see below]) and employed the engraver for about a year exclusively for himself. Before he got acquainted with C. Tizian had his works reproduced mostly in woodcut … The engravings C. now worked for Tizian

the  master  have  valued  particularly ;

for he sent copies of them to his mighty patrons, in the expectation to keep alive by this the interest at his art in a proper manner …

The  sudden  turn  to  the  grandiose  in  the  style  of  C.

during his stay in Venice thus can be attributed to Tizian’s personal influence, who by this also has the merit to have co-caused

the  new  epoch  of  the  Italian  engraving  induced  in  the  following  by  C.

… The result Tizian had hoped for from C.’s engravings was not long in coming; we have as evidence for this the enthusiastic letter of Lampsonius (Dominique L., poet & art writer, “already in his lifetime he enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best humanists of the Low Countries”, Thieme-Becker XXII, 277) … to Tizian on the 6 engravings (by Cort) he had seen at the prince-bishop’s of Liège. Lampsonius asks Tizian to obtain impressions of the engravings for him, too, and praises C.’s sheets for

the  bold  and  brisk  line , especially  in  the  treatment  of  the  landscape

… (since March 1567) C. had gained great popularity in Rome due to the virtues of his art … C. became the preferred engraver of the two Zuccari … then of (then also present here)

Muziano  who  stirred  a  great  sensation  in  Rome  then

(and 1571/72 he worked in Tizian’s house again) … The influence C. had on the Italian engraving of the 2nd half of the 16th century is not examined in detail yet. It is certain that only Goltzius again furthered the development of the technique of engraving by another step and that up to his appearance

C.  could  maintain  indisputably

the  fame  of  being  the  first  engraver  in  the  world

… C.’s engravings must have achieved a great propagation for the most were published subsequently by several publishers … ”

(L. Burchard 1912 in Thieme-Becker VII, 475 ff.).

Then 1975 Hans Mielke in the Berlin Bruegel Catalog :

“ … who by development of the waist-practice (letting the individual line swell in the shadow parts) becomes a pioneer for the practice of engraving. ”

And 1999 Manfred Sellink in Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon :

“ It is characteristic for the œuvre created in Italy that C. knows to achieve by the linear engraving technique a distinct painterly effect in grey tones. Presumably Tizian, in view of C.’s capabilities as engraver, has effected a singular privilege in Venice in 1567 according to which every print was protected for fifteen years … The technical skill and the ability to reproduce the paintings of varied masters graphically convincing earn C. lifelong appreciation as one of the best engravers of his time – (his skill already praised by the expert and artist biographer Karel van Mander as contemporary in his “Didactic Poem” [about 1600]) … In the manner of formation and (engraving) technique C. has exerted lasting influence of which not only the more than 500 copies after his prints give evidence, but also the fact that in Rome a whole generation of engravers, far into the 17th century, has worked in his manner. ”

But already 1858 Nagler had stated to the point in the dictionary of Monogramists (I, 2382) by the words

“ marked  an  epoch  in  Rome  for  he  united  virtues  within  himself

which  other  praised  artists  of  his  time  lack ”.

Here then after Muziano to whose “great delicacy and strong sense for nature” in the subject of landscape Thieme-Becker (XXV, 1931, p. 304) refer to. He himself had continued his studies “in Venice under the influence of Tizian, and since c. 1548 in Rome under that of Michelangelo”. And adequately he requested the hand of Cort for the reproduction of his Seven Large Landscapes, from which set here then now

the  more  seldom  depicted  St. Onuphrius , the  “Wild Man”  of  mediaeval  art ,

as hermit as which he has lived by tradition in the Upper Egyptian desert in the late 4th century where Paphnutius the Ascetic as the sole source encountered him, supported with bread by a raven, while after 60/70 years lions helped to dig his grave. After studies of jurisprudence + philosophy he first joined a monastery near Thebes (today Luxor), the capital of the old Egypt situated c. 420 miles south of Cairo on both banks of the Nile, before he departed into the desert as hermit. As such then also Cort depicts him, but in a landscape of greatness and beauty, standing for the image of the landscape of the art of his time. Magnified by Cort’s merit

to  have  opened  “ the  way  of  the  art  of  engraving  in  the  large  scale ” .

For “Up to the age of C. Cort one had worked almost merely on a small scale, he however opened the way of the art of engraving in the large scale, that is he had discovered new ways for the art and done new steps towards perfection. He engraved a great many fine sheets which are the delight of the connoisseurs, and please for the taste, for their fine effect and the correctness of the drawing” (Nagler). Shortly ,

a  fascinating  large  16th  century  landscape

with an interesting  rarer  Father  of  the  Church  uniting  both  Roman + Eastern  Catholic  Churches  as fine setting. With June 12 as his commemoration in both churches.

And while, finally, Thieme-Becker emphasize the exceptional character of the printing privileges Tizian succeeded in getting from the Signoria for Cort’s engravings – see above – , so they complement this for Cort himself “as token for how esteemed (this then later) was in Rome, that 1573 and 1577 C. received

by  papal  Motu  proprio  privileges  for  the  distribution  of  individual  sheets ”.

His  present  landscape  of  1574  bears  such  one :

“ PRIVILEGIO.D.GREG(OR).PP..XIII ” !

His Saint Hubert also available here did not receive this favor. – For the Onuphrius details credits go to Wikipedia + Encyclopedia Britannica.
Offer no. 15,267 / EUR  1100. / export price EUR  1045. (c. US$ 1357.) + shipping


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(Herr M. M.-P., 17. Januar 2009)