FINE ART INVESTMENTS SINCE 1978
Title: "The Betrothal of the Virgin"
(after) Albrecht Durer
Medium: Original Engraving
Limited edition: Unknown, presumed small
Sheet size: 11.5" x 8.5"
Marcantonio was the object of one of the earliest suits by an artist against those appropriating his work as their own. As
Vasari tells it in his Lives of the Artists, Marcantonio discovered a set of Albrecht Du¨rer's Small Woodcut Passion in
Venice, spent all of his money to purchase it, and proceeded, much to Vasari's disgust, to make engraved copies of each the
pieces including Du¨rer's monogram. (Vasari makes it clear that he thinks everyone ought to be imitating Italians, not
vice versa.) Du¨rer made a trip to Venice and complained to the Senate that Marcantonio was stealing his work and
misrepresenting it (since Du¨rer had made woodcuts, not engravings). The Senate decided that since the images belonged
to all of Christianity, Du¨rer could not claim ownership, but that his name belonged to him, and so it ordered Marcantonio
not to use Du¨rer's monogram in his own works. Vasari seems to have gotten some of the detail s wrong—it was Du¨rer's
Life of the Virgin that Marcantonio was publishing with Du¨rer's monogram, not his Small Woodcut Passion, which is
never found in Marcantonio's engravings with the monogram—but the mistake is understandable, since Marcantonio did
subsequently make engraved copies of the Small Woodcut Passion as well.
After leaving Venice, Marcantonio went first to Florence, then on to Rome, which became his home and where he found
success working with Raphael as the head of a workshop of engravers (including Marco Dente da Ravenna and Agostino dei
Musi (called Agostine Veneziano) whose copies made Raphael's work known through Europe. The two artists became
friends and Raimondi's first work for Raphael was 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;
consequently there is often a marked discrepancy between an oil by Raphael and Raimondi's engraving of it.
Marcantonio's triumphs as an engraver in Rome gave him an international reputation. Durer wrote for proofs from his
hand, and German engravers flocked to Rome to study under him.After Raphael's death from the plague in 1520,
Marcantonio continued to work with the surviving members of Raphael's studio until the Sack of Rome in 1527, during
which, according to Vasari, Marcantonio was taken prisoner and forced to sell everything he owned to ransom himself.
Although his actual date of death, like his birthdate, is unknown, none of his works can be dated after 1527, and it is
presumed that his death probably occurred soon after he was released from captivity.