Etching on two plates depicting the so called “Aldobrandini Marriage”, a portion of a large fresco discovered about the year 1600 from the masonry of a house near the Arch of Gallienus on the Esquiline Hill, Roma, Italy. Then, it was in possession of the Aldobrandini family. Until the 19th century, this was one of the few and most influential paintings from the early Roman empire, and generated much interest and scholarship including the present etching by Pietro Santi Bartoli (1635–1700).
The scene shows ten people, in three areas on the same line, whose action takes place both indoors and outside. In the scene on the left, a Roman matron with a white cloak, veiled head and flabellum, appears to test the temperature of the water poured into a small washing lustral supported by a pedestal, from which hangs a towel and in which a maid seems to pour other water.
In the central scene, bordered by the pillar angle between the two walls and the threshold of the house, a woman with legs crossed (Charis, or, more likely, Peitho, goddess of persuasion), with sandals, leans against a pillar, and is intent on pour essences from an Alabastron over a shell valve supported with the left hand. On cloth-covered bed sits the bride, with head veiled and dressed in a white coat and yellow shoes, and another female figure (Venus), bare-chested and with sandals, affectionately embracing the first. At the foot of the bed a young half-naked (Hymen, god of marriage), with a cloak wrapped around his waist and head wreathed with ivy, lies on the doorstep and observes the scene of loving persuasion that takes place at his right.
In the far right scene, outdoors, three young women stand around an incense burner supported by a tripod; the woman turned of three quarters, with headdress, is intent on pouring the essences from a patera, while in the center, with radiated crown of leaves (of palm ?) turns towards the female musician with a six-string lyre hanging from her neck and plectrum in her right hand.
The composition, known as the “Aldobrandini Wedding”, was greatly admired especially for its colors throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The plates were included in the 1693 edition of “Admiranda Romanarum antiquitatum”. In such edition, though, the plates are numbered and the text is slightly different from that on our plates.
The title is reproduced above, whereas at the bottom is readable a dedication: “ILL.me ATQ. EX.me DNE ET HEROINAE OLYMPIAE AL/DOBRANDINAE PAMPHYLIAE ROSSANI PRINCIPI. / Imago antiquae picturae, quae in tuis Quirinalibus hortis, exemplar, et miracul/um artis recentibus Pictoribus est, è meis typis prodiens, exemplar ipsum se / cuta, ALDOBRANDINUM coelum, et SIDERA quaerit teque Solem suum agno/scit. Quod tuum est ad te redit, meus sequitur obsequentissimus animus atque immortali nomini tuo devota, perpetuo voluntas // Humilissimus et addictiss. servus / Io. Iacobus de Rubeis”. Signed also at bottom right: ‘P.S. Bartol. sculp. / Io. Iac. de Rubeis formis Romae ad Temp. Pacis cum Priv. S. Pont.’
On verso in pen and ink: ‘old wedding’ in late 18th-early 19th century handwriting.
Etching on paper, two plates with margins; plate mark: ca. 207 x 376 mm, total: ca. 218 x 390 mm; state I/2 (?) some staining on the margins especially; crease in the middle. Rare in this state.
Aldobrandini Bruiloft – Huwelijksfresco – Vaticaanse musea – Mythologische figuren – Rome
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