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Between and Mortarboard

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Madonna and Child with a Bishop

Accession Number

Madonna and Child with a Bishop

Andrea Andreani

Artist Nationality
Italian (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
chiaroscuro woodcut on laid paper

11 1/8 in. x 8 7/16 in. ( 28.3 cm x 21.5 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of J. Frederick Hoffman

Label copy
Andrea Andreani
Italy, 1558/59–1629
Madonna and Child with a Bishop
Chiaroscuro woodcut printed with line block and three tone blocks on laid paper
Gift of J. Frederick Hoffman, 2007/2.146
The production of chiaroscuro woodcuts never became widespread, partly because artists were deterred by the technical challenges of coordinating several blocks to create an image and printing the blocks upon a single sheet. Andrea Andreani, however, the primary practitioner of the technique in Italy during the late sixteenth century, excelled in conquering these challenges. During his career, Andreani displayed his technical accomplishment by creating several large, multi-sheet chiaroscuro woodcuts that required over forty different blocks. His more modest work exhibited here employs only four printing blocks, integrated seamlessly to yield rich variations of light and dark that indicate his mastery of the medium.

Subject matter
This chiaroscuro woodcut depicts the Virgin and Child being adored by an unidentified bishop. The print was made after a drawing by the Sienese painter Alessandro Casolani (ca. 1552-1607) by the Mantuan artist Andrea Andreani, who resided in Siena from 1586 until 1593. Andreani excelled at creating complex chiaroscuro woodcuts printed from multiple blocks. While some of his grandest prints incorporated forty blocks, this more humble example nevertheless seamlessly integrates four different blocks to produce a single image.

Physical Description
A woman sits on the left holding a nude infant in her lap. An aureole of light radiates around her head as she looks downward toward the child, who returns her gaze. A bearded bishop wearing a miter and holding a crosier kneels before them on the right.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
chiaroscuro woodcut

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bishops (prelates)
chiaroscuro woodcuts
crosiers (episcopal)
miters (high headgear)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display