Artibus et Historiae no. 85 (XLIII)

2022, ISSN 0391-9064

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GIANCARLO FIORENZA - Bononia docet: Marcantonio Raimondi, Humanism, and Artisanal Culture in Renaissance Bologna (pp. 185–207)

A new interpretation of an enigmatic engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi from his early career in Bologna sheds light on the artist’s cultural connections during his formative years. With its assimilation of alchemical, poetic, and hieroglyphic imagery, Raimondi’s engraving points to a nexus of activities in Bologna that clustered around intellectual circles and artists’ workshops. In particular, the artist appears to have engaged directly with the famed Bolognese physician Alessandro Achillini in order to develop his novel composition, a relationship which has previously gone unnoticed. Raimondi’s initial vocation as a goldsmith, together with his training under Francesco Francia, about which we have precious little documentation, also proves vital to understanding how scientific inquiry into nature’s secrets, which is at the heart of the featured engraving, embraced artisanal forms of knowledge in Renaissance Bologna. The work ultimately testifies to Raimondi’s status as an independent artist in the initial years of the sixteenth century, full of inventive powers, able to deftly assimilate a broad visual vocabulary and adorn his subject matter with poetic veils.

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