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Lot n° 48

Giuseppe Porta, known as Il Salviati (1520-1575) The...

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Giuseppe Porta, known as Il Salviati (1520-1575) The Cartomancer. (Frontispiece for Le Sorti, intitolate giardino di pensieri... [Fortunes, book of divination], Venice, F. Marcolini da Forli, 1540). Woodcut. 193 x 240. Very fine proof on thin laid paper. Median horizontal fold. Light spotting and foxing. Fine margins. Ex-coll. J.-M. Agassis (Lugt 69). The subject of the engraving is taken from a composition by Marco Dente and transforms a group of scholars into a gathering of characters - including the traditional melancholy one on the right - around the central figure of the cartomancer. "The] composition is not original to Porta but closely copies an engraving by Marco Dente, a student of Marcantonio Raimondi who died in the Sack of Rome of 1527. By changing the book opening to show two pages from Marcolini's Le Sorti instead of an image of stars and planets, and by adding a pack of playing cards, the image has shifted from a gathering of scientists to a group of fortune-telling enthusiasts. The three women are probably intended as the three Parcae or Fates, who in ancient mythology spun, measured, and cut the thread of human life. Shown carrying out these actions in an allegorical image on page 21 of the book, the Fates are especially appropriate to the cover of a publication entitled Le Sorti, or The Fates. In this frontispiece, where they are engaged in the pleasurable pursuit of fortune-telling, they seem more relaxed than in the engraving by Dente - the one in the foreground even seems to smile as she shows Marcolini's book to the pensive man beside her." (metmuseum.org).

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