Raimondi, Marc Antonio

, the most celebrated of the old masters in the art of engraving, was born at Bologna, as is generally supposed, about the year 1487 or 1488. His first master was Francesco Francia, or Raibolini, (See Francia,) a painter and engraver, from whom he learned the principles of drawing, and succeeded so well, that the name of Francia was added to his own. It does not appear from whom he learned engraving; but it must have been early, as the print of “Pyramus and Thisbe” is dated 1502, and this, as well as several of his first works from the designs of Francia, were probably executed before his departure from Bologna.

Being desirous of improving himself by travelling, he went to Venice, where he first met with the works of the German engravers, particularly a set of wood-cuts by Albert Durer, representing “the life and passion of our Saviour.” Vasari informs us that he copied these with so much exactness, that they were sold for the originals; that Albert Durer complained of the injury, and got no redress, unless an order that Marc Antonio should not, for the future, add the cypher or monogram of Albert Durer to any of the copies he might make from his engravings. Copying them, it appears, was not thought illegal, the only injury being that of appending the mark of the person whose works are copied. But what renders the story somewhat improbable is, that the prints of “the life and passion of our Saviour” by Marc Antonio, have no mark of Albert | Durer, but the cypher of Marc Antonio only. Strutt thinks that Vasari has mistaken one set of prints for another, that is, for those of “the life of the Virgin,” which Antonio also copied, and to the last of which he added his own cypher, as well as the monogram of Albert Durer, some proof that his intention could not be to usurp the fame of the latter.

When Marc Antonio quitted Venice he went to Rome, where his merit soon recommended him to Raphael, who not only employed him to engrave a considerable number of his designs, but assisted him in tracing and correcting the outlines upon the plates. Raphael was so pleased with his performances that he sent many specimens of them, as a complimentary present to Albert Durer, which he thought well worthy of his acceptance. Antonio’s great reputation brought many young artists to Rome, where he formed a school that soon eclipsed those of Germany; and in the process of time it was considered to be as necessary for an engraver, as for a painter, to visit Italy the Italian style of engraving became the standard of excellence, and at the conclusion of the sixteenth century, the German manner was almost totally disused. Among his scholars the most successful was Agostino de Musis, and Marc de Ravenna.

After the death of Raphael, Marc Antonio was employed by Julio Romano. This connection was unfortunate, for he disgraced himself and his profession by engraving that painter’s abominable designs to accompany Aretine’s infamous verses. For this pope Clement VII. sent him to prison, from which he was released with great difficulty by the interest of the cardinal Julius de Medici and Baccio Bandinelli, the sculptor. The exquisite merit of his “martyrdom of St. Laurence,” at length reconciled the pope to him, who pardoned his offence entirely, and took him under his protection. He had now attained his highest reputation, and had accumulated wealth, but lost the latter entirely in 1527, when Rome was taken by the Spanish army. After this misfortune he retired to Bologna, where perhaps he died, but when is not known. The last print we have of his is dated 1539, after which he cannot be traced with certainty. Strutt considers him as one of the most extraordinary engravers that ever lived. The purity of his outlines, the correctness with which the extremities of his figures are marked, and the beauty and | character which appear in the heads, prove him to have been a man of great taste and solid judgment, as well as a perfect master of drawing. These beauties, without doubt, appear most striking in his works from Raphael, a circumstance which seemsr greatly to confirm the report of his being much assisted by that great master. Strutt has given a list of the best of Marc Antonio’s prints, which however are rarely to be met with in their original state. 1

1 Strutt’s Dict. and Essgy prefixed to vol. II. Heineker’s Dictionnaire d,e& Artiste*, 1778.--Roscoe’s Leo.