Francesco Bartolozzi, RA (Italian, Florence 1728–1815 Lisbon)
“St. Jerome penitent in the wilderness" ("San Girolamo penitente nel deserto")
After Giovanni Francesco Barbieri known as "Guercino" (Italian, Cento 1591–1666 Bologna)
Etching, printed in brown ink
31.7 cm x 25 cm
Inscribed beneath the image within the plate "Guercino inv." (lower left) and "F. Bartolozzi Sculp." (lower right)
Private Collection UK
Presented in what is possibly its original ‘Peartree’ frame.
This print here reproduces Guercino's drawing of "St. Jerome in the wilderness" now in the Royal Collection. The saint is depicted as a hermit in loosely draped apparel, reading the scriptures with a stone in his hand - an attribute he is traditionally shown with for beating his chest in penance.
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri known as "Guercino" was, after Guido Reni's death, the leading Bolognese painter. His flowing, calligraphic drawing style was particularly admired and his works were much sought after by British collectors. Numerous Guercino drawings were acquired by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (who served as Prime Minister from 1762-1763) while he was on his Grand Tour and he presented a group of these to King George III in 1763. At around the same time other drawings by Guercino were acquired by George III's librarian and art dealer Richard Dalton, from the Casa Gennari in Bologna, the former home and studio of Guercino's nephew Cesare Gennari (1637–1688) who had become custodian of many of his uncle's papers and effects.
Francesco Bartolozzi was born and trained in Florence as a draughtsman and painter of miniatures. In 1745 he moved to Venice to work as a reproductive engraver. In the early 1760s he was invited to come to London by Richard Dalton, specifically to make engravings of the King’s newly-acquired Guercino drawings.
Bartolozzi's plates after the Guercino's drawings in the Royal Collection are a masterful interpretation of the original works. They were highly influential and were at first sold individually with prices ranging from 1s to 2s 6d. The plates were later bought from Richard Dalton's estate by John and Josiah Boydell and published together in two folio volumes in the 1790s.
Bartolozzi flourished in England and became one of the founder members of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768. He engraved the Academy’s first diploma to the designs of his friend and fellow countryman Giovanni Battista Cipriani.
De Vesme & Calabi 2156 ii/ii
Alberto Alberghini Guercino: la collezione di stampe. 1991, cat. no. 26, p. 17, ill.