“ The Great Hunter in the Sky ”
With Differring Interpretations of Orion’s Origin .
Familiar the one as son of Poseidon, according to another myth an earth-born Bœothian who wanders over the sea to Chios where in the course of an amorous affair he is blinded, but gets eyesight back from Eos until in later poetry Zeus places him along with his hound Sirius among the stars “from where still today he
shows the course to the mariners .
“ Between there was a life with various stormy events (as then also his appearance and setting is good for stormy times), which engaged the Olympus, but could not break this strong masculine life. ”
To be told anew musically even recently by “Casken’s colored-splintered orchestral piece” as the
“ ancient myth of Poseidon’s son Orion, the hunter (1st part), whom Helios cures of his blindness (‘Sea Voyage Towards the Sun’), whom a scorpion stabs to death (scherzo-like 3rd part), and who finally vanishes into the constellation of Scorpio (calm finale in constant change of the perspective of the colors in multifariously fanned out orchestra setting) .”
“ Of all winter constellations Orion ,
the great hunter in the sky ,
doubtless is the most prominent one ”
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung April 4, 1992 + December 31, 2004) “named originally after Nimrod”, the founder of the Babylonian empire and “after Josephus identical with the builder of the Babylonian Tower” (Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., XII, 189), after Moses I, 10/9 “a mighty hunter before the Lord”.
Here then now in his zenith
as “ a beautiful and mighty giant and hunter ”
with the daughter of Zeus from whom
“ she asked for arrow and bow and all mountains to hunt on the same … Her real field is the open nature with its mountains and valleys, forests, meadows, springs, and rivers; there she is about with the nymphs … now as vigorous huntress … Arcadia, rich in mountains and woods, was considered as her favorite district where at many places she had … sacred hunting districts and holy animals.
For as tutelary goddess of wood and hunting … all game is dear to her and sacred … As goddess of the hunt annually in spring in her honor
the feast of Elaphebolia … ” , the Stag Hunts ,
was celebrated, including the second half of our March and the first one of April
(Meyer’s Conversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., I, 879 f. & V, 499).
And in its dynamic of going ahead , the expectation of experience , shortly , the self-certitude of antiquity , quite in thematic contrast to St. Hubert as the Christian doubtful about his doings :
“ Oriental Prime Myth
The Great Hunter & the Huntress ”
reflected here then in its couple
Orion & Artemis
than Dürer’s Saint Hubert ,
which it follows nevertheless with the inevitable distance of the less known brand
to the one of the market leader .
So all in all
the equal-sized companion praising the hunt
to the latter’s Christian hunter
a rare main sheet of old master prints into the bargain .
Of which an intimate connoisseur of Greek and especially Oriental mythology
“ I found the motif on your website
extraordinarily fine ”.
1520 Mantua 1582
The Allegory of Hunting
The Hunter Orion carries the Tutelary Goddess Artemis/Diana
Surrounded by noble pack, the spike in the right, the sword with griffin-head pommel in the belt, thick network over the left, and the shoes adorned with lion heads, he enters, laurel-adorned, the forest. On his shoulders Diana, holding the bow on her knee, the quiver on her back. Behind the two, still in the open field, the procession of the nymphs, likewise with hounds, spikes, and bows. In the increasingly farther background opened by a pregnant solitary tree a blocking griffin, two hounds hounding the stag, setting up of nets, vibrating village life. Engraving after Luca Penni, called Romanus (Florence 1500/04 – Paris after Sep. 21, 1556, or Apr. 12, 1557). 1556. Inscribed: LVCA PENNIS .R. INVEN. GEORGIVS GHISI MNT. FA (ligated) .M.DLVI. / Romæ Claudij Duchetti formis, otherwise as below. 14¼ × 10 in (36.2 × 25.3 cm).
Lewis/Lewis 22, III (of IV, recte V as unaware of the Orlandi state); Bartsch 43; Nagler V, 139 + XI, 81; Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon LIII, pp. 83 ff. – Not in Schwerdt mentioning III, 68 only the pendant “Venus with Adonis returning Home from the Hunt”. – Lower margin quatrain: IN SYLVIS HABITANS AB AMORIS CARCERE LIBER … – Watermark: Eagle in crowned Circle (Briquet 207 [Rome 1573-1576]; L.-L. 13 [about 1580]).
With the address of Duchetti (Claude Duchet from Orgelet/Jura, provable since 1544, d. Rome Dec. 19, 1585; nephew and part-successor of the legendary printer and publisher Antonio Lafreri [Antoine Lafréry, Orgelet 1512 – Rome 1577] already working for Ghisi, too), before those of Giovanni Orlandi (about 1590-1640) as not having become known to L.-L. + Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi (also Rubeis, Rosso; after 1640).
Slightly grey impression as proven for this state elsewhere, too, of imaginably finest condition. Perceptible on the back only a touch of stipple foxing and the suggestion of a perfectly smoothed horizontal fold. Otherwise absolutely untouched and with even margin of 4-5 mm all around.
The rich , splendid patronage sujet
of the pre-Christian hunter ,
Poseidon’s son ,
after Luca Penni. Belonging to the school of Raphael and active in Fontainebleau since c. 1530 where he appears in the royal account-books of 1537-1550. On his return from Antwerp Ghisi made a halt there, too, 1555/56 and in such a manner was “probably personally acquainted with him” (AKL). He is passed on, however, „almost only by engravings after his drawings“ (Nagler, Monogramists, IV, 1381) which therefore provided “for the propagation of the style of the school of Raphael” (Th.-B.). Present
“ finely drawn sheet ”
is one of Ghisi’s main works, created in at least chronologically/locally close touch with Penni, thus one decade later, after the mid-forties had led to “increasing technical maturity”. Foremost, however, after the downright caesura-like years in Antwerp (1550/54, if at the express invitation of the Antwerp engraver Hieronymus Cock staying in Rome in the late 40ties, establishing then his publishing house Aux quatre vents in 1548, and publishing four substantial works by Ghisi, is not documented) as
niemeyer’s — where diligence is a matter of temper
“ decisive for both the development of a personal style and the refinement of his technical skill. By this (Ghisi) constituted an exception at his time when contrarily the stay of north alpine artists in Italy, foremost in Rome, was the rule (Bellini 1998).
By the contact with the Flemish environment G. develops a preference for landscape views … what shows in an increasing enrichment of his compositions by wide and light backgrounds – as then also here on the right up to the village ensemble obliged to Netherlandish models – which are inspired by north alpine models, drawings, and prints. The depiction of the landscape gradually receives a greater autonomy in G.’s œuvre (Salsi, 1991) ”
(Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon LIII , 84).
This artistic taking however stood opposite to a just so giving as may be proved for instance by the great Vredeman de Vries:
“ Cock … published a version of Raphael’s School of Athens etched by Ghisi. The latter himself had worked under Giulio Romano at the pictorial furnishing of the Mantua palace del Te. The sheet has great importance for Vredeman’s Scenographiae which he … prepared in Mechelen from 1550 to 1560. Since Ghisi lived in Antwerp up to 1554 a direct contact between him and Vredeman is very probable. It would especially explain the Italian motifs with Vredeman , e. g. the foreshortening of the column dome as Giulio Romano had executed it in the Sala dei Giganti of the del Te palace after models by Andrea Mantegna. Ghisi was, of course, not an ornament engraver, but he may have informed Vredeman also on the classical grotesqueries and their interpretation by Giovanni da Udine and others …
A considerable influence on Vredeman had Raphael’s painting The School of Athens from the Vatican Stanzes. Hieronymus Cock published the composition in 1550 in the engraving of the Raphael pupil Giorgio Ghisi … The print caused then great attention in the Netherlands. Vredeman used it as model for some paintings as well as for several sketches of his Scenographiae published by Cock in 1560 ”
(Heiner Borggrefe in Hans Vredeman de Vries und die Renaissance im Norden, Catalog of the exhibition in Brake und Antwerp, Munich 2002, pp. 16 & 136).
niemeyer’s — where the unusual is at home
Beside Raphael’s School Cock still published three further works by Ghisi “which as reproduction of works of important Italian painters were fundamental for the propagation of the Roman manierism in the Netherlands” (AKL).
The above 1555/56 stay in France was followed “with certainty” by a further one between 1558 + 1559 and “In Dec. 1562 G. still is documented in Paris (letter to the [Gonzaga] Duke of Mantua; Bellini, 1998)” for whose family he becomes officially active from 1576 on. He is regarded as
“ the most qualified of the Mantua engravers ”
(Albertina, Kunst der Graphik, III, 1966), “continues the technique of Marcanton and tries to give it a strong plasticity and a colored, metallic brightness by a special care of the work and greater smoothness of the lines” (Kristeller in Thieme-Becker XIII, 563 f.). In contemporary impressions including the Duchetti state here his present sheet is
and in such a perfect preservation up to the still even fine paper margin all around as present here to be found with difficulty at best.
While copies of the previous states I+II cannot be proven here on the market for the last decades the sheet generally was missing in the Ghisi sections Weigel (1838/57) and Davidsohn (1920/21; there just the Avibus copy as following, but without stating it openly by its name) just as well as other notable old master collections.
But even by competent side the likewise rare, reverse (that is spike in the left!) 1563 copy of Caspar Avibus (Gaspare Oselli ab Avibus, Cittadella c. 1536 – 1585?, provable last 1580) as additionally also even engraved by Luca Penni (!, so German Hunting Museum, cat. no. 5976/page 222 with ills. page 166) is taken as the original! Its immediate following on Ghisi additionally suggesting the quite interesting economical conclusion that supply and demand were unbalanced.
Yet here and now
Ghisi-Orion sheer . As unmistakable .
Offer no. 15,222 / price on application
“ Sir, yes, (the Rubens) is closer to the one in London (recte Dresden), but the one we have is on copper. Thank you for your time. Highest regards, D… A… (and yes America could use a blessing about now) ”
(Mr. D. A., November 4, 2003)