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Saturn

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (probably, engraved)

  • Date:

    1540-1560 (engraved)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thiry, Léonard (artist)
    Boyvin, René (engraver)
    Milan, Pierre (Engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving on paper

  • Museum number:

    22790:1

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case EO, shelf 9

This engraving belongs to a set of twenty prints attributed to René Boyvin and his workshop. But it has been suggested that they could perhaps be by Pierre Milan, since it is quite unusual for Boyvin not to sign his work. Depictions of the Greek and Roman divinities were quite common in the 16th century, as were grotesques. But to represent the Roman gods surrounded by grotesques, and with such details, makes this set a very original one.

The original drawings were made by Léonard Thiry in the middle of the sixteenth century, as the inscription on the first plate ‘Leonardus Theodoricus inventor’ demonstrates. They were once attributed to Rosso Fiorentino and his influence is quite strong in this set. Indeed Rosso himself drew a series of Gods in Niches engraved by Caraglio. In both series, gods and goddesses are set up in traditional pairs, such as Pluto and Proserpina, Ariadne and Bacchus; furthermore Thiry’s compositions are often extremely reminiscent of Rosso’s. For example, Saturn is shown in the same posture, devouring one of his children, in both sets.

The four prints showing Neptune, Thetis, Hercules and Hebe are very rare, and unlike the others, they are unnumbered.

Physical description

Engraving from a set of twenty prints depicting grotesque panels containing pagan divinities. Saturn (plate 1). Saturn, standing on a pedestal at the bottom of the engraving, is shown with his scythe, devouring one of his children. The upper part of the print represents an ornamental structure with scrolls inhabited by putti, snails, birds, etc. Attributed to René Boyvin or Pierre Milan, after Léonard Thiry; mid 16th century. Numbered '1'. Lettered with a Latin inscription: 'Quid prodest Saturne pater deglubere natos?'. And signed: 'Leonardus Theodoricus Inventor'.

Place of Origin

Paris (probably, engraved)

Date

1540-1560 (engraved)

Artist/maker

Thiry, Léonard (artist)
Boyvin, René (engraver)
Milan, Pierre (Engraver)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Numbered '1' in the upper centre of the plate.
Numbered.

Lettered in the lower centre of the plate:

'Leonardus . Theodoricus . / Inventor'
Signed.

Lettered in the lower margin of the plate:

'Quid prodest Saturne pater deglubere natos?'

Dimensions

Height: 17.5 cm Cut to, Width: 10.8 cm Cut to

Historical context note

This engraving belongs to a set of twenty prints attributed to René Boyvin and his workshop. But Henri Zerner (L’Ecole de Fontainebleau, 1972, p. 332, no.434) suggested that they could perhaps be by Pierre Milan, since it is quite unusual for Boyvin not to sign his work. Depictions of the Greek and Roman divinities were quite common in the 16th century, as were grotesques. But to represent the Roman gods surrounded by grotesques, and with such details, makes this set a very original one.

The original drawings were made by Léonard Thiry in the middle of the sixteenth century, as the inscription on the first plate ‘Leonardus Theodoricus inventor’ demonstrates. An old attribution to Rosso exists due to the fact that the name of Léonard Thiry was scratched and replaced with the inscription ‘maitre Rous’ by a fraudulent publisher. Nevertheless, Rosso’s influence is quite strong in this set. Indeed Rosso himself gave a series of Gods in Niches engraved by Caraglio (Bartsch illustrated, 28, pp. 116-165). In both series, gods and goddesses are set up in traditional pairs, such as Pluto and Proserpina, Ariadne and Bacchus; furthermore Thiry’s compositions are often extremely reminiscent of Rosso’s. For example, Saturn is shown in the same posture, devouring one of his children, in both sets.

The four prints showing Neptune, Thetis, Hercules and Hebe are very rare, and unlike the others, they are unnumbered.

Descriptive line

René Boyvin or Pierre Milan, after Léonard Thiry. Plate from a suite of 20 grotesque panels with pagan gods. France, 1540-1560.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Robert-Dumesnil, A. P. F. Le peintre-graveur français, ou Catalogue raisonné des estampes gravées par les peintres et les dessinateurs de l'école française. Ouvrage faisant suite au Peintre-graveur de M. Bartsch. Par A.-P.-F. Robert-Dumesnil. Paris: G. Warée, 1835-71. Vol. VIII, no. 119.
Zerner, Henri. L'Ecole de Fontainebleau, gravures. 1972. p. 332, no.434.
Strauss, Walter L., ed. The Illustrated Bartsch, 28, Commentary: Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century. New York: Abaris Books, 1995. pp. 116-165.

Production Note

Attributed to René Boyvin. But the set has also been attributed to Pierre Milan.

Materials

Ink; Paper

Techniques

Engraving (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Putti; Birds; Scrolls (motifs); Grotesques; Snails; Murder; Mask; Mythology; Scythe; Infanticide

Categories

Prints; Ornament prints

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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