Etruscan mythology, £8.99
Height: 490.000 mm
Width: 354.000 mm
PD 1859-7-9-2376 (B.XII.100.10)
Prints and Drawings
Ugo da Carpi, Diogenes, a woodcut after Parmigianino
Signed by designer and block cutter; around AD 1525
A chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks
The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes (about 400-325 BC) rejected conventions and comforts in favour of a simple life of virtue. He reportedly lived in a barrel, shown behind him in this woodcut, which depicts him naked 'shameless as a dog' or as a Cynic (from the Greek word for dog). The plucked bird in the background is his mocking response to Plato's reported definition of man as a ‘featherless biped'.
sixteenth-century biographer of Italian artists, claimed that Ugo
(about 1450-1525) invented the chiaroscuro (light and shade)
Nonetheless, under Parmigianino's guidance, Ugo's skilful block cutting has produced a masterpiece. Diogenes himself points out their names with his stick. The print captures the exuberance of a chalk and wash drawing on coloured paper, with the heroic figure style of the High Renaissance style in Rome. Each block printed alone would be meaningless, but together the four colours suggest powerful masses in space, with light blazing from the unprinted white paper.
D. Landau and P. Parshall, The Renaissance print 1470-155 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1994)