In the final display case of the exhibition, we can compare and admire two prints from the Civica Raccolta delle Stampe “Achille Bertarelli”. There is a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer from the early 16th century and a copy of the same iconographic subject of the Adoration of the Magi, engraved by burin by Marcantonio Raimondi a few years later.

Albrecht Dürer (Nuremberg, 1471-1528), a key exponent of German Renaissance painting, in the spring of 1495 opened an artist’s studio in his hometown, where he chiefly worked as an engraver, practising both wood engraving and copperplate. In this period Dürer created some series of engravings that are among the most important of his entire production. Not long after 1500, the artist began to work on an important new project - a series of woodcuts of the Life of the Virgin. By 1505, almost all the prints were finished (including the Adoration of the Magi here on display), while the whole series was completed between 1510 and 1511, after his second visit to Venice. In 1511, complete with title page, the work was published as a book: Epitome in divae parthenices Mariae historiam, Nuremberg 1511. The same iconographic theme – though the scene is composed very differently – was revisited by the artist in a famous oil-on-wood painting of 1504, now conserved in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. And in 1511, Dürer was to make a final version of the Adoration of the Magi, again using the woodcut technique.

Giorgio Vasari relates that Italian engraver, Marcantonio Raimondi, acquired some plates from Dürer’s woodcut series of the Small Passion and of the Life of the Virgin. He copied them as burin copperplate engravings and began to sell these forged copies in Venice, provoking the anger of Dürer himself. Marcantonio Raimondi even went so far as to append the monogram ‘AD’, commonly used by the German master to sign his work, to many of the copies. Raimondi’s copperplate is now on display beside Dürer’s original woodcut. Lastly, beside the two early sixteenth-century prints, a nineteenth-century photomechanical engraving bears witness to the need felt in the past to use modern materials to fill the gaps in series of engravings held in museums.

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