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Print - St Albert, the Companion of St William
  • St Albert, the Companion of St William
    Rosa, Salvator, born 1615 - died 1673
  • Enlarge image

St Albert, the Companion of St William

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Rome (probably)

  • Date:

    1661

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rosa, Salvator, born 1615 - died 1673

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching with drypoint

  • Credit Line:

    Dalton Bequest

  • Museum number:

    E.1301-1900

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case BOX, shelf 73, box A

Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) was born in Arenella near Naples and soon absorbed the energy and violence informing Neapolitan art, characteristics which would be apparent throughout his career. Rosa was a prolific etcher although he also produced drawings and paintings. He particularly favoured subjects taken from little known and enigmatic sources, such as in the present case. Albert was the companion and the disciple of Saint William of Maleval, a Tuscan penitent of the 12th century, who withdrew in an especially horrid valley of Siena where he died in 1557.

Physical description

In the background, rocks and vegetation, a man with a bare torso is tied by his hands uprised over his head while contemplating a crucifix laid on the ground.

Place of Origin

Rome (probably)

Date

1661

Artist/maker

Rosa, Salvator, born 1615 - died 1673

Materials and Techniques

Etching with drypoint

Marks and inscriptions

'SRosa'
Signed in etching lower left

Object history note

Dalton bequest

Historical significance: Although none of Salvator Rosa's etchings are dated, this etching is traditionally ascribed to a date around 1661. It is a fine example from Rosa's large output of prints and shows a rarely-depicted episode inspired by the medieval Tuscan history: the life of Albert, companion and disciple of Saint William of Maleval, a Tuscan penitent of the 12th century, who withdrew in a particularly horrid valley of Siena where he died in 1557.
The main character is a direct quotation of a well-known Antique statue: Marsyas in the Uffizi, Florence. Legend has it that Marsyas competed with Apollo in a musical context and lost. He was then punished for having defied the god and was slayed alive by Apollo himself. The statue was transferred from Florence to Rome at the end of the 16th century and appears in an inventory of the Villa Medici in 1598. This famous statue was reproduced in the major anthologies of prints (Perrier, 1638, plate 18; Maffei, plate xxxi). Rosa depicted the pain of this particularly harsh penitent life through the tension of the stretched body, which imitates the position of Christ on the cross, mirrored in the Crucifix lying at his feet. This print forms a pair with St William of Maleval, of which an impression is also in the V&A collection (See 23200:1).
A preparatory drawing for this composition, with slight differences in the background, is in the collection of Lord Leicester in Holkham Hall. A copy of the print in reverse was published by Johann Jakob von Sandrart (1685-1698) while another copy in the same direction was published by Carlo Antonini in 1780.
The subject of this large etching responds to Rosa's ambition to be known as a 'painter philosopher'. This intellectual attitude could be easily circulated through prints, which were relatively cheap and were widely disseminated.

The original plate is preserved at the Calcografia Nazionale in Rome (Inv. 747m).

Descriptive line

Print, 'St Albert, the Companion of St William', Salvator Rosa, Rome, 1661

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

The Illustrated Bartch, xx, 2.
Wallace, R. W., The Etchings of Salvator Rosa, Princeton, 1979, no. 100.

Techniques

Etching (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Rocks; Trees; Crucifix

Categories

Prints; Religion

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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