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Marcantonio Raimondi

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Engraver, b. at Bologna, 1475 (1480?); d. there, 1530 (1534?). He studied under the goldsmith and niellist Francia, and later often signed his work M-A. F., F referring to his teacher. His earliest plate (1505), "Pyramus and Thisbe", shows a goldsmith-like shading. His first artistic stimulation came from seeing plates by Dürer, some of which he copied (1506) with such perfection that they sold as originals. When rebuked by the Venetian Senate on Dürer's complaint, the young man subsequently added his own to Dürer's initials. From Lucas of Leyden Raimondi also learned much; his burin gained in mellowness from engraving Perazzo's work. Rapidly assimilating and always simplifying, Marcantonio's "Mars and Cupid" (1508) finds him master of technic and finished in style.

About this time Raimondi left for Rome, stopping at Florence to sketch Michelangelo's (lost) cartoon "The Climbers", which he afterwards engraved in Rome (1510). Seeing a proof of this Raphael exclaimed: "It is the finest I have ever seen and the finest that can be seen!" The two artists became friends and Raimondi's next work was Raphael's "The Death of Lucretia". This and later plates show the darks becoming less dramatic and the burin work more "open". Raphael left much to Raimondi, never giving him a finished picture but a pencil or pen outline-drawing, knowing that the proper treatment and elaboration would come from his engraver; and hence there is often a marked discrepancy between an oil by Raphael and Raimondi's engraving thereof. Marcantonio's triumphs in Rome equalled those of Raphael ; Dürer wrote for proofs from his hand, and German engravers flocked to Rome to study under him. Romano and Aretino subsequently induced him to engrave obscene or suggestive plates, for which he was imprisoned by Pope Clement, who, however, freed him several months later at the solicitation of Cardinal de Medici. In 1527, at the sack of Rome, he is said to have escaped, leaving a fortune and his plates in the victors' hands. Some authorities record that he died four years before this, heartbroken at the death of Raphael. Raimondi opened up a new province of the burin — reproduction; he inspired the largest following that ever an engraver had, and he drew as well as da Vinci or Raphael. "His sentiment was noble, his taste pure" (Delaborde); his style, simple and sober, his modelling of figures beautiful, and he was the first engraver who omitted details. Of texture, tone, and local colour of modern engravers he had not a trace. Raimondi engraved about six hundred plates. His best are: "Adam and Eve" (probably the finest); "Virgin with the Bare Arm"; "Massacre of the Innocents"; "The Plague"; "The Judgment of Paris" (with a trace of goldsmith-like shading).

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