Italian Renaissance masterpieces, £19.99
Height: 530.000 mm
Width: 378.000 mm
PD 1928-3-13-122 (Bierens de Haan 115)
Prints and Drawings
Cornelis Cort, St John the Baptist in the Wilderness, an engraving after Girolamo Muziano
Flanders, AD 1574/5
Landscape engraving with the saint in the foreground
This signed print is one of ten engravings by Cort (1533-78) after designs by Muziano, which helped to establish the latter's reputation as a landscapist. From the high vantage point on the right, the viewer is taken into the depth of the plate; from the silhouetted tree stump in the front via rocky hillocks and little bridge, out to the distant sea. On the left, a larger area of leaning trees and rich foliage restricts the view to the foreground, above the kneeling saint.
Cort was much admired in his lifetime for his virtuoso engraving skills. He refined a precise technique of parallel engraved lines, that hugged the contours of his shapes and emphasized contrasts of lights and darks, visible in this landscape. After a successful career working for the publisher Hieronymous Cock in Antwerp, in 1565 he travelled to Italy with a letter of recommendation to Titian, the greatest Venetian painter of the day. Cort worked for Titian for six years, producing the first engravings of that master's work. With his reputation assured, he then moved to Rome, where he engraved work after Correggio, Barocci and other artists, including Muziano.
Cort's sophisticated engraving technique ultimately derives from that of Marcantonio Raimondi, probably learnt via Giorgio Ghisi in Cock's publishing house. A generation later, the technique was developed to startling effect by Hendrik Goltzius.