- Museum number
Ezekiel; facing left and sitting on clouds, he wears a turban and holds a book in his left hand. c.1480-90
- Production date
- 1480-1490 (circa)
Height: 175 millimetres (cut along border)
Width: 103 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The print belongs to a group of twenty-four 'Prophets' and twelve 'Sibyls' executed in a style called by Hind the 'Broad Manner' and now attributed to Francesco Rosselli; the group is based on the earlier series of the same subject engraved in the 'Fine Manner' by Baccio Baldini (for this set see the entry for Hind C.I.13.A.II: P&D V.1.17).
The Rosselli's 'Prophets' and 'Sibyls' are arranged in the same fashion as their models, although they possess a stylistic character quite different from Baldini's. The latter's series are often based on German prints (chiefly Schongauer and the Master E.S.) while Rosselli's were conceived in an Italianate spirit, close to the early manner of Botticelli. Rosselli also reduced the excess of ornamental details of the old models and revised the text below each figure, separating words that Baldini had combined. The engravings are accompanied by a text explaining the prophecy expressed by the biblical personages, probably quoted by the text of a 'sacra rappresentazione' ascribed to the Florentine poet Feo Belcari and performed in 1471 at the church of St Felice in Piazza, on the occasion of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza's visit to Florence. The correspondence between the text of the play and the series of prints is not straightforward (see M. J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 1, 1993, pp. 160-1) since the printed version of Belcari's text includes twenty-one prophets and nine sibyls, not twenty-four and twelve respectively in the engravings. It may well be that the engravings are closer to the original version of the play as his engravings follow soon after, and that the printed text from the end of the fifteenth century incorporates later changes. In spite of the inconsistencies it is generally assumed that Belcari's text is the literary source for the engravings, with their arrangement mirroring that of the theatrical production with two prophets alternating with one sibyl.
The 'Prophets' and 'Sibyls' were engraved on both side of each plate; the original plates appear to be listed in the Rosselli inventory (1525) in the following way: "17 pezi di sobile e profeti, dopi" (17 double [side] pieces of Sibyls and Prophets). The group is generally dated 1480-1490.
The series of twenty-four 'Prophets' engraved in the 'Broad Manner' exists in two states (three in Hind's opinion); only the prints illustrating the prophets Moses, Zechariah, Joshua and Isaiah (respectively Hind nos. 3, 21, 23 and 24) survive in reworked states.
The BM possesses an almost complete set of the first state, lacking Hind nos. 15 and 16 (respectively the prophets Amos and Obadiah; two reproductions illustrate these lacking engravings). The collection of the museum also possesses three impressions of the third state (Hind nos. 3, 23 and 24; respectively the prophets Moses, Joshua and Isaiah).
For a fuller discussion of this set see A.M. Hind, 'Early Italian Engraving', I, London, 1938, pp. 153-161; M.J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 2, 1994, pp. 38-41; G. Lambert, Les Premières Gravures Italiennes quattrocento-début de cinquecento, Inventaire de la collection du department des Estampes et de la Photographie, Paris, 1999, pp. 95-96.
The present engraving is the first state of the print, issued before reworking; other examples of the first state are in Vienna, Boston, Berlin, Pavia (Raccolta Malaspina, Museo Civico), in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and in the Rothschild collection (Louvre, Paris).
The image is completely different to Baldini's prophet 'Ezekiel' (Hind C.I.12.A and Mark J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 1, 1993, p. 182, no. 063), which in turn was based on the figure of 'St John the Evangelist' by the German Master E.S.
Rosselli omitted Baldini's elaborate throne (replacing it with banks of clouds), but he borrowed eclectically from other figures in the 'Fine Manner' series, reversing his models: the lower half of the body is taken from Baldini's prophet 'Jeremiah' (Hind C.I.10.A and Mark J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 1, 1993, p. 179, no. 061), the l arm, cloak and book from the prophet 'Nahum' (Hind C.I.18.A and Mark J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 1, 1993, p. 191, no. 069) and the pointing r hand and wrist from the 'Agrippan Sibyl' (Hind C.II.12.A and Mark J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 1, 1993, p. 216, no. 087).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number