Woodcut printed on silk, heightened by hand with gold
Sheet: 37.6 x 37.3 cm (14 13/16 x 14 11/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1994.102
Catalogue raisonné: Bartsch XII.101.11, plate 9 (p. 102)
Commissioned by Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga, this series of chiaroscuro woodcuts reproduces Andrea Mantegna’s Triumph of Julius Caesar, painted a century earlier. The scenes imaginatively portray the triumphal procession of the renowned Roman general and consul Julius Caesar following his successful defeat of Gaul in 52 BC. Each section of the continuous frieze shows elements typical of these parades, sanctioned by the Roman Senate and described in ancient texts. The printed suite’s frontispiece features a portrait bust of Mantegna, and the text below boasts that the famous paintings attracted many viewers. People who owned sets of these woodcuts often tacked them up to create a decorative frieze. Andreani issued the prints with a sheet of classical columns that could be cut out and placed between the scenes. Two fragments of these columns, colored orange, still flank the fourth scene.
This special impression of the final woodcut in Andreani’s Triumph of Julius Caesar was printed on dyed silk. The gold highlights, added by hand, make Caesar in his triumphal car appear especially luxurious. In their descriptions of Roman triumphs, the ancient chroniclers Plutarch and Appian each wrote that the hero of honor wore purple robes decorated with gold.
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