Making a good impression: Diana Mantuana's printmaking career.
With this print Diana launched a plan for which she had laid the groundwork the year before. She had arrived in Rome with a stack of engraved plates, and requested a papal privilege to protect and commend her prints. Then, through the practice of incising and dedicating copperplate engravings, she set about establishing a reputation for her new household (consisting at that time of her husband and herself) in her adoptive city. The direct sale of her prints could not provide a living for the family; instead the engravings were designed to secure the means for earning a living by procuring work of a different but related sort: architectural commissions for her husband. Through her engraving and carefully cultivated manner of self-presentation, skills she had honed since childhood, Diana participated in fashioning the complex web of activity that permitted the economic survival of an artisan family working at the edge of sixteenth-century courtly circles. By attending to the signatures and dedications on her prints, to contemporary notice of her accomplishments, and to her choice of subject matter, we find out how this woman, who was evidently a model of sixteenth-century feminine virtue, could become the first woman to sign her prints with her own name.
Diana's signature and the unusually long dedications that often preceded it, as in the print of the Ionic volute, are the most important indications of how her prints were used and why they were made. Her public identity, as shaped by her different modes of signing, was crafted in relation to possible architectural commissions for Francesco da Volterra. The names by which she has come to be known in later centuries obscure this practice, central to her entire engraving enterprise. Due to Vasari's misconception about Diana's relationship to Giorgio Ghisi, who became the most well-known of the sixteenth-century Mantuan engravers, Diana was called "Diana Ghisi" in the eighteenth century.(2) More recently this was changed to "Diana Scultori," when scholarship showed that she was the daughter and sister of men who called themselves "Scultori". Although it was a helpful name for Diana's father and teacher, the sculptor Giovanni Battista Mantuano, "Scultori" would not have been a helpful name for Diana, as we will see. She purposely and self-consciously changed her signature at various points in her lifetime, but in no document, nor on any print, nor in any sixteenth- or seventeenth-century source does Diana call herself "Scultori."(3) Diana's own signatures were carefully modeled to call attention to her relationships to the Mantuan court, her father, or her husband, as is evident in her name as it appears on the print of the Ionic Volute (Diana Mantuana eiusdern Fran(cis)ci uxor Romae incidebat).
The print of the Ionic volute is a good place to begin because it shows how the skills of printmaking and drawing helped Diana and her husband lay the foundations for earning a respectable living when they moved away from their native cities and took up residence in the more promising urban center of Rome. It also introduces Diana's method of market-gauging according to the subtle structures of patronage at high - though peripheral - levels of courts at Mantua and Rome. The drawing that served as a model for Diana to make her engraving was a by-product of one of Francesco's earliest Roman commissions, making benches for the ancient church of San Macuto during its remodeling in the early 1560s - essentially carpenter's work.(4) However, when Francesco was called back to San Macuto in 1575 to build a chapel and adjoining hospital for the building, the assignment was more prestigious: he was working as the architect of the commissioning confraternity. Documents specify that he was paid for "the drawing of the chapel of the Goldi, and for the plan made of the whole site for the construction of the hospital, and for other drawings he made."(5) The architects hired to remodel Rome's ancient structures were trained draughtsmen, and as such they felt themselves in a position to know more about the construction and characteristics of old buildings than most other people - therefore the claim to expertise in the teaching of ancient styles. Diana's elaborate, full page engraving of the Ionic volute was not only a formal announcement of Francesco's professional status as an architectural draughtsman, but also of the intellectual value of architectural designs in their own right.
The print was not only evidence of Francesco's draughtsmanship and knowledge of antiquity, but it also meant that he was able to supply Diana with the drawings she would need as models from which to carve her engravings. The daughter of a printmaker, Diana's education as an engraver did not include similarly detailed training in drawing. However, while engraving and drawing are practices that are indeed inextricable from each other, Diana's printmaking depended on access to drawings made by others rather than on her own ability to draw. Diana's models were provided by family members (as in the case of the Ionic volute) and friends, and her engravings worked to the advantage of all the people involved in the production of her prints.
But what claim did an Ionic volute have on the attention of a larger print audience? Mantuan audiences would have recognized the anatomy of an Ionic volute as emblematic of Mantuan architectural genius at the most intellectual level. V[olutes were the subject of a well-respected publication by Giovanni Battista Bertani, chief supervisor of Mantuan court art and architecture after the death of Giulio Romano and during Diana's years in Mantua. His book sought to explain some of the difficult practical passages of Vitruvius: specifically, how to construct an Ionic volute.(6) Bertani's carefully written treatise, which proceeds from practical, technical questions, was far more serious than the usual frivolity issuing from Mantuan court circles in mid-century. Diana and Francesco's design is quite similar to the demonstration volute in Bertani's book, which shows the carved and finished capital facing the page on which a schematic drawing of the volute's proportions are shown [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 3 OMITTED]. Bertani was justifiably proud of his interpretation, and carved his solution to the construction of an Ionic capital, along with the diagram for measuring its proportions, on the facade of his house in Mantua.(7) Among the engraved plates Diana took with her when she left Mantua were several containing useful narrative images by Giulio Romano, Bertani's predecessor at court. But her Mantuan legacy from Bertani was the weight of the Ionic volute as a recognizable signifier of architectural erudition.
Diana came to Rome with another more direct and immediately useful literary reference from the Mantuan court. She was only nineteen years old when Giorgio Vasari met her in 1566 during his second visit to Mantua, made for the purpose of revising his Lives.(8) This event resulted in the first published notice of Diana as an engraver. The context in which the Tuscan court artist mentioned her linked her name publicly and forever to the heritage of Giulio Romano and the fame of Mantuan court art.
Vasari praised the artistic activity at the Gonzaga courts he had not seen for twenty-six years, marveling at the abundance, and, quite literally, fertility of its artisans, who, besides producing much ornament, were also reproducing themselves:
All in all, from what I saw last time I was in Mantua to this year, 1566, when I returned, the city is so much more ornamented and more beautiful that, if I had not seen it, I would not have believed it. What is more, the number of artisans has multiplied and keeps on multiplying. Inasmuch as this, to Giovanni Battista Mantovano (engraver of prints and excellent sculptor, whose story I related in the Lives of Giulio Romano and Marcantonio Bolognese) there were born two sons who engrave copper plates divinely, and what is more marvelous, a daughter named Diana also engraves so well that it is a wonderful thing: and when I saw her, a very well-bred and charming young lady, and her works, which are most beautiful, I was stunned.(9)
The two sons mentioned (but not named) by Vasari were in fact Giovanni Battista's only boy, Adamo, and Giorgio Ghisi, who was not a son but may have studied engraving with him. In Diana, besides a rare and diverting collectible for his overwhelmingly masculine Vite, Vasari identified exotic proof of the salutary nature of a benevolent court: a continuum of artisans emerging one from the other, in a manner that neatly supported his model of regeneration in the nourishment of the arts.
The training Diana received from her father and the position she and her family occupied in relation to the court determined the direction her printmaking took in later years. However, it was not only a set of practical manual skills, but also an equally marketable appreciation of comportment that Diana learned from her father, who used engraving, among other things, as a means of securing a future for his children.
Diana was one of at least three daughters born to Giovanni Battista Mantovano, who was working as a member of the decorating crew in the new Palazzo Te in the 1520s under the direction of Giulio Romano.(10) He used Giulio's drawings to make stucco friezes, drawn copies, papier mache statues, or any number of two-and three dimensional versions of his employer's work for Gonzaga palaces. After Giulio Romano's death he was inherited by Bertani and continued to find employment on a variety of other Gonzaga projects over the years.(11) As a man skilled in disegno, he was useful for any assignment in which competent work involving drawing was needed. When his children were old enough to learn engraving, he was able to provide them with drawings (as Francesco da Volterra would later do for his wife), either his own inventions or his copies of the work of more well-known artists.
Diana's father was spoken of highly by other artists as well as by Mantuan intellectuals like Arrivabene.(12) Vasari mentions Diana's father in three different chapters of the second edition of his Lives, always describing him as a sculptor and engraver, and calling him Giovanni Battista Mantovano. The name the artist used for himself most often in surviving letters was Giovanni Battista Scultori, a surname descriptive of his profession which his son also adopted.(13) He made engravings after designs by Giulio Romano and other Mantuan artists, and also from his own drawings. Although he signed his engravings "Giovanni Battista Mantovano" or a variation of that name, his Mantuan projects are always unsigned and his involvement known only through written documents. He did not seem to rely directly on the sale of engravings to make money; his practice of engraving was more complex than that. As we shall see, the prints also functioned as a kind of courteous currency in obtaining patronage.
Vasari admired Giovanni Battista's engravings, and provided a list of some of them which he described as having been made with "invenzione, disegno e grazia straordinaria."(14) He also named Giovanni Battista among the best of Giulio Romano's students, who were, he regretted, the sole memorials in Mantua to their master's memory. But Giovanni Battista's patrons did not seem to accord him anything like the respect they reserved for Mantegna and later Giulio Romano. When Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga was approached for drawn copies of Giulio Romano's Sala de' Giganti he answered that he would try to find someone to do it, but wasn't hopeful because "here there are such sad masters" in obtaining that kind of work.(15) As late as 1551 he had written apologetically to Paolo Giovio, who wanted a portrait copied, that he would try to give it to the "best master, or to the least bad one that we have in this place."(16) Other documents show that workmen like Giovanni Battista, engaged in decorating the Gonzaga palaces, were at times considered expensive annoyances by the ruling family. They were forced to work quickly for their often ungrateful employers, and against changing deadlines.(17) In spite of Vasari's enthusiasm, Diana and her family - at once dependent on Gonzaga patronage and alert to the necessity of keeping that favor dependable - were well-acquainted with the less agreeable aspects of courtly benevolence.
Engraving was the one area in which Giovanni Battista could exert control over the work he did and also claim credit for it. He produced prints in conjunction with other entrepreneurial activities to alleviate the uncertainty of obtaining regular work in Mantua. The engravings were sometimes used as an incentive for larger commissions, as we see that they were in a series of letters between Giovanni Battista and the Bishop of Arras (later, Cardinal) Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, the first written in 1547, the year of Diana's birth. In them, Giovanni Battista alternately laments the lack of work, and then cannot supply Granvelle with drawings on time because he has suddenly been inundated with jobs from Cardinal Ercole. In the course of this exchange we find out quite a lot about Giovanni Battista's professional uses of drawing and printing, his technical knowledge, his family workshop, and his outside operations.(18) In this case, the engravings were not sold but were given as gifts to a good patron in the hope of attaining further favors and work.
Granvelle ordered drawn copies of various works of art in Mantua for use in his new home at Arras. The first commission was a set of fifty-nine drawings to be made by Giovanni Battista from copies of Michelangelo's Last Judgment, which had been recently ordered by Cardinal Ercole from the painter Marcello Venusti. Giovanni Battista writes that he made the drawings and bound them into a book, which in the end proved disappointing to Granvelle. The artist's response reveals something about the contested nature of copies and originals, as well as the artist's share in the look of finished copies: "From your Holiness' letter I see that you are not wholly satisfied with the book of disegni because they do not have the appearance you wanted. It is true that if I had drawn them from the originals in Rome I would have been inspired to do it in a different style, but I made them following the copy that I have, and they are a thing in itself."(19)
Giovanni Battista was free to admit to not having worked from the frescoes, and by defending the validity of his copy as work in its own right - una cosa istessa - he set precedent for a kind of autonomy for the copies-once-removed which he sent on to France. Granvelle seems to have found nothing offensive about the incident and went on to order more drawn copies of Mantuan sculptures and drawings.(20) But perhaps Giovanni Battista felt insecure about his patron's displeasure in the Michelangelo project, because when his next package arrived at Granvelle's it included an undescribed engraving by Adamo: "I am sending a piece of paper newly engraved in copper by my son, because I decided that your lordship will have the first from however many prints he engraves."(21) The print enclosed in the tin tube along with the drawings was an attempt to secure an introduction for his young son. With surprising familiarity the letter goes on to ask directly, "if you wished to send me any money, I would be happy, because I have a lot of expenses and live from day to day."
The last letter, in which Giovanni Battista acknowledged Granvelle's payment for drawings and his patron's satisfaction, affords a picture of how a master of medium rank worked to make the most of what connections he had. Manipulating tenuous strings, he tried with many courteous words to arrange money immediately and security for the future: "My Lord . . . I return to ask that because of your usual kindness you be disposed to grant license for Isepino Bonaventura the Jew and his company to go the court of her Majesty Queen Maria, by her consent, with various beautiful things from which her Majesty has ordered a part . . . I beg your lordship to grant me this grace, from which I too will profit . . . but only it being easy and agreeable to Your Holiness, as to do a thing that does not displease you is more dear to me than any other great profit which could come from this . . . 16 July 1549. From your faithful servant, Giovanni Battista, Sculptor."(22)
Working at court provided access to potential patrons but also severely constricted the ability to operate freely in one's own self-interest. Within this constriction of freedom Diana's father gracefully managed to obtain enough patrons to keep him working. He had to work fast and, worst of all, to remain discretely invisible, which made it difficult to make certain that he always had work. He was concerned about his son's career and was eager, through his relatively autonomous enterprise of engraving, to make connections that would work to Adamo's advantage in the future and provide opportunity beyond the immediate prospects of the Mantuan court. He could, and did, teach his son the technique of engraving. However, the necessity of remaining noticeable and yet inconspicuous at court was a lesson more important to the behavior of a daughter living anywhere than to a son who did not plan to stay in Mantua.
While Adamo did leave the court and set himself up in the modern style as a printer and publisher in Rome, Diana continued to operate as her father did even after leaving Mantua, using engraving to enable other activity. She maintained an extraordinary degree of freedom acting under the protection of her father's house until, married, she could exchange it for the protection of her husband's house, where she could also provide a home for her widowed mother and unmarried sister. While it was not unusual among artisans for a daughter to be trained in the family craft, it would have been unusual to train a daughter for a public career in a trade like engraving, the kind of career Adamo had working in Roman publishing houses.
But the extraordinary meeting in which Diana captured Vasari's attention in time for the second edition of the Lives was an event which made her part of the first moments of a written history of art. There is no documentary evidence along the lines of the Granvelle letters to show that Diana's father tried to forge the same kind of connections for her that he made for his son. However, given Giovanni Battista's abilities to turn favorable situations to further advantage through deft manipulation of the skills of courtiership, as well as the fact that he had found himself written up in the first publication of the Lives, it is likely that Diana's meeting with Vasari was another case of her father effecting an important introduction for one of his children.
For Diana, Vasari's notice mediated the usual constraints of class and gender by including her in the codification of a new cultural discourse, a self-conscious history of art and of the arts at Mantua. Vasari's notice, and her father's courtly skills - passed to his daughter along with the carefully polished techniques of copperplate engraving - allowed possibilities for Diana's participation in the world of artists and artisans at a time when the distinction between the two worlds would become more practical and precise. As a woman, Diana was barred from directly participating in much of the world of commerce. She would also be unwelcome when the first drawing academy was founded in Rome, and in formal drawing training before that time. But Diana was still able to engrave publicly under the already publicized description of a "well-bred and charming young lady." This was how Diana began her Roman career when she married Francesco da Volterra. It was in the service of establishing her new household, with Francesco in the position of main wage-earner as architect to the members of the papal court, that Diana began to print in Rome.
The couple went about making a good impression in their new city by attending to the architecture of their own house and building their public reputation. He, too, was mentioned briefly and favorably by Vasari earlier in the same chapter as Diana. The Volterran designer had been brought to Guastalla (one of the satellite dukedoms of the Mantuan court) by Cesare Gonzaga in the mid 1560s, where he earned a yearly salary as appointed architect-designer-engineer for the Gonzaga-ruled city and the court.(23)
Unlike Diana's father, Francesco had difficulty negotiating the differently cast responsibilities of courtier on the one hand and responsible works administrator on the other. Ordered by Cesare Gonzaga to build a cathedral, he dutifully applied to agents in Rome for the necessary papal permission.(24) When permission was finally paid for and obtained, the cautious architect, perhaps too aware of the bureaucratic intricacies of the papal court, continued to delay the project while he made certain he had all the papers he needed before he began work.(25) This produced an exasperated letter from Don Cesare: "I am amazed at Volterra, who, in order to carry out my will does more research than I ordered. Permission has been given to begin the church, and it is not up to him to ask me if I have license or not: I, who do not have to give account of myself to anyone, knowing very well what I have to do in one of my own lands."(26)
Although in Rome Francesco eventually became known as something of a civic-minded diplomat, even becoming the Guastalla agent at the Vatican, problems in relating to his aristocratic employers did not immediately improve.(27) Years later, a Gonzaga agent in Rome wrote to Ferrante II, then seeking a court architect, advising against re-hiring Volterra whom he found assai nociva. In that letter the architect was identified to the duke by his relationship to his more well-known wife and father-in-law: "M. Francesco da Volterra, who years ago was in the service of Signor Don Cesare Gonzaga and is married to the famous Diana, daughter of the deceased M. Giovanni Battista Scultori, would also like to serve your Highness there, however his manner is rather sickening."(28) The job was given instead to Oreste Vannoccio, "nobile Senese," described in the letter as learned and particularly renowned for his good manners. The technical evaluation was based in large part on an outside competency report, since by his own admission the agent was more qualified to judge the conduct of a gentleman than the skills of an engineer.(29) As Diana and her father knew better than Francesco, the two things weighed evenly towards employment at court.
By 1570 Francesco da Volterra had left Gunstalla and was again employed in Rome, working as an "intagliatore," architect and carpenter.(30) After his marriage he and Diana moved into a house in the Campo Marzio granted to him by the Augustinian friars at Sant' Agostino with the provision that he restore and maintain it. Fulfilling the terms of his grant from the church, Francesco restored the house "nobilmente" from its previous condition and called his assistant from Guastalla, Raffaelino da Reggio, to fresco the facade with colorful putti and chiaroscuro scenes from the life of Hercules.(31) Francesco and his wife both became members of the artisans' Confraternity of San Giuseppe. While Diana, as a woman, could only participate in religious services and the process of dowering young girls, Francesco became one of the most serious and active of the confratelli over the course of the next decade.
Like many early modern and medieval families, Francesco and Diana included involvement in fraternal organizations with their artisanal work and forged extended family relationships in order to solidify their position in the city and provide for themselves and their children. Their choice of Durante Alberti as godfather to their only child, a son named Giovanni Battista, shows one way in which familial connections were used to secure bonds of work that would be helpful to all the family in Rome. Durante Alberti, a pious Counter-Reformation painter, was a cousin of the brothers Cherubino (a painter and engraver) and Giovanni Alberti (a painter), who had a sister, Suor Elisabetta (a nun), who engraved. Another cousin, Cesare, was also an incisore, whose brother Giorgio was a godson of Vasari. Another relative, a painter named Romano Alberti, became the secretary of the first Accademia S. Luca, of which Francesco da Volterra was a founding member.(32)
In 1579, Cherubino Alberti must have known Diana Mantuana somewhat well. Late in her life he engraved one of the most eloquent portraits of Diana, which he identified above the engraved oval frame as "Diana Mantuana, Civis Volaterana." This was, in fact, one of Diana's own modes of signing prints after 1579, when Francesco, having procured several prestigious architectural commissions and become something of a success, returned temporarily to his native city to work on its Duomo and water projects and to request Volterran citizenship: "Francesco di Giovanni Capriani architect . . . having practiced his trade so many years with much diligence and hard work to acquire some skill and profit, lives by it today, housed with his family in the city of Rome, having there attained . . . the ability to live honestly . . . with the honor and grace of many knights, princes and lords. . . . He has petitioned with the present document that . . . he be numbered among the citizens of Volterra, in order . . . to show the famous lords who have heard of him that Volterran talent has not been exhausted."(33)
Like many other artisans, in his adopted city Francesco Capriani followed his baptismal name with that of his native city: Francesco Capriani da Volterra, or more usually Francesco da Volterra.(34) In Rome the name was associated with another famous Volterran artist who worked there until his death a few years before, Daniele Ricciarelli da Volterra. Daniele da Volterra had been active in papal decorating commissions under Julius III and had become famous working in the style of Michelangelo. He, too, had worked for the Augustinians at Sant'Agostino, who had likewise granted him a house in the Campo Marzio, and he had also applied for and received a concession of citizenship from his native city in 1564.(35) He was clearly the most recent example of "Volterran talent" which Francesco could count on city officials to remember. The city name which Francesco da Volterra described to the town council as "engraved" on his person proved to be an efficient tag.(36) When Diana was made an honorary Volterran citizen after her husband she quickly moved to consolidate the relationship by modifying her signature accordingly and engraving some of Volterra's best known art treasures, dedicating her work "To the city of Volterra: That which I have taken from you I renew to you, and dedicate to you."(37)
In Rome, Francesco and Raffaelino set about establishing themselves in the circle of artists of the papal court, hopeful that their labors would lead them, like the Hercules Raffaelino painted on the facade of Francesco's house, to the Temple of Fame.(38) There was already a tradition of painting the facades of houses along papal processional routes, and the house Francesco was given was one of these. It was part of his contract that he should restore the house so that it no longer "threatened ruin," but it was Francesco who chose to do so "nobilmente." The grandly illustrated house facade was one public representation of its occupants' aspirations for which the aristocratic tastes of the Gonzaga were successfully imported; Diana's engravings of Mantuan paintings were another.
While other girls roughened their fingers embroidering linens for their trousseaux, Diana turned engraving needles to the preparation of several impressive copperplate engravings to bring to Rome with her. Whatever else her dowry may have included - and there is no evidence that it would have included much money - Diana brought to the marriage her skill in reproductive engraving, her access to Mantuan drawings, her small but memorable fame as a female engraver, and her familiarity with courtly behavior.(39) The already famous Diana provided the household with a courtly identity and artistic ancestry more readily than could her serious and businesslike husband. Francesco's skill in drawing and his previous experience with papal bureaucracy became two more advantages in the family enterprise that resulted in Diana's Roman prints. The drawings provided Diana with models (like the one for the print of the volute) and the bureaucratic know-how provided a distinguished legal framework for her Roman operations, specifically, in obtaining a papal privilege.
Diana received her papal privilege for making and marketing her prints on 5 June 1575, shortly after she arrived in Rome. It was an unusual piece of paperwork, recorded among the briefs and diverse papers of Gregory XIII. Up to that time very few of these papers were concerned with the right to produce and reproduce images. The only artists (besides Diana) who appear among the lists of indulgences granted by the papal court in these years are those who received offices and appointments, like Michelangelo's appointment as building supervisor of St. Peter's, and the miniaturists who were chosen to design and manufacture Agnus Dei, devotional images stamped in wax and blessed and distributed by the pope at Easter. Almost without exception, the other women who applied for privileges, licenses, indulgences, or other varieties of special legal attention from the papacy requested indulgences relating to marriage and the allocation of dowries or entry into monastic orders. The other Mantuans who requested special notice tended to be Gonzaga family members looking to marry, join or found monastic orders, secure the rights to titles and land, or gain indulgences for the palatine church of Santa Barbara. These sorts of requests were the usual concern of the Segretaria Breviorum from which the briefs originated. Diana Mantuana's printing privilege was granted by a papal office which did not normally bother itself with granting privileges to engravers, male or female.(40)
Printing privileges conferred by this branch of the papal administration were written on behalf of the publishers, writers, sellers, and printers of a small number of the many books issuing from Roman presses. Book printing privileges in 1575 (known as indulti, or inhibitit) were usually granted by the office of the Maestro del Sacro Palazzo to the person in control of the expenses and distribution of the book. From 1487 on this office had been charged with examining all printed texts issuing from Roman print workshops, or for sale by Roman book merchants. Although the original bull of 1487 instituting papal control over printed texts had called for, among other punishments, excommunication for parties believed to have promulgated heretical literature in the Papal States, this soon mutated into two separate provisions: one covering implications of heresy punishable by excommunication, and the other establishing ownership to the rights of the printed material. The first became a requirement that all printed matter bear an imprimatur showing that it had passed ecclesiastic examination, the second levied a fine (usually earmarked for the fabrica of S. Peter's) against transgressors of the exclusive right of one person or entity to profit from the sale of a particular work. Both safeguards were implicit in the printed line appearing at the bottom of many prints in different forms, but it was not as universal as it was in books, nor was the form of the disclaimer standardized when it was present.
By the late sixteenth century the Maestro del Sacro Palazzo or his viceregente oversaw the Index of Prohibited Books, and kept a register of all printed texts in order to make certain that taxes were collected and that the texts were not heretical. Eventually it became a legal channel for protecting the ownership of and financial investment in plates and prints.(41) But in 1575 this office was less concerned with the production and sale of images than with texts. Printed images [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE OMITTED] were not mentioned in the bandi issuing from this office until 1597, and engravers escaped specific mention until 1599.(42) The high office from which Diana's privilege was issued was consistent with Francesco's experience of papal bureaucracy when he was preparing for building the Duomo at Guastalla. Diana does not seem to have applied for privileges for future engravings, and the superfluity of such a privilege in 1575 also ties in neatly with the tenor of her husband's previous cautious procedure.
Diana's privilege was modeled on the formal book-printing privileges requested for books intended for sale both within and outside of Rome. She received the privilege in her own name, thereby protecting her sole right to profit from the distribution of her prints for a period of ten years and to market them as her own invention and property. They were her own speculative venture, and the stiff penalty for transgression of her rights was excommunication, a fine of fifty gold ducats and seizure of all the contraband material.(43) Besides officially recognizing Diana's legal ownership and authorship of her engravings, the privilege made it a punishable offense for any printer or bookseller to produce, copy or sell what were referred to as her inventions. There was no mention of a reciprocal necessity on Diana's part to obtain permission from any other party before she distributed engravings based on work made by other artists and presumably not owned by Diana.
The privilege names five of Diana's prints which she had engraved in Mantua or in the short time she was in Rome: "Diana Mantuana, wife of the architect Francesco Capriani, with whom she is living in our great city, has sculpted the work of many excellent painters and sculptors, and engraved them in copper . . . the Story of the Adulteress, the Feast of the Gods, the Procession of the Horsemen or . . . the Triumph of Caesar from Giulio Romano, the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ from Giulio [Clovio] the miniaturist, the image of Saint Jerome from a model and invention of Daniele da Volterra."(44) With the naming of this group of prints we return to the design of Diana's, or as I prefer to think of it by now, Diana and Francesco's Roman printing enterprise with which this essay begins. The engraving of St. Jerome [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 4 OMITTED], mentioned last in the list, is the only one with no dedicatory inscription. However, it provides the best evidence that Diana's training did not include an education in drawing, as we would expect today. Diana was a member of one of the first generations of printmakers to learn the craft from parents who had not been able to learn it from their own parents. Her printmaking gives us an insight into how engraving became a trade that required the use of drawings but was available to people who did not need to know how to draw.
The privilege specifies that the engraving of Saint Jerome was made after a "model and invention of Daniele da Volterra," which is an unusually circuitous way to attribute authorship. The "model and invention," which seems to be a clear reference to a drawing by Daniele da Volterra from which Diana made her engraving, is not known today. Daniele da Volterra also had an uncertain role in the creation of a small, related painting of Saint Jerome and his lion in the wilderness made for the now-destroyed church of Santa Marta behind the Vatican [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 5 OMITTED]. This painting also seems to reflect, rather than to be, his original invention.(45) Like the frescoes and stucco friezes Giulio Romano designed for the Palazzo Te, and like the paintings Bertani designed for the Mantuan churches, it was probably executed by another painter who managed - mostly via the saturated color of a crimson robe, glowing milkily against the umber shadow of a sheltering cave - to produce a somewhat moving, if safely didactic, devotional picture. In this painting, the animal succeeds in enforcing the engulfing darkness with clear-eyed courage and protection, while the unusually massive body of the aged saint makes a statement about the temporal nature of physical power in a recognizably Michelangelesque mode. The saint is neither still nor grim: his long white moustache and beard tremble as he prays, twisting his body to lift a rock from the ground. The lion - a sage, noble and powerful beast, plainly leashed in invisible bonds of gratitude - shows us inner strength (fortitude) while exhorting us to imitate his chosen master in imitating the suffering of Christ. This is, in an unsubtle way, how a devotional image does its work.
It is not always informative to check a sixteenth-century reproductive print against the original from which it is said to depend, because the correspondence between the print and the painting was not expected to be exact, as Giovanni Battista Scultori asserted when he told Granvelle that his copy was una cosa istessa. However, in the case of the St. Jerome it would have been an interesting comparison if the drawing Diana used existed, if only to see whether having an original drawing (rather than a copy) made any difference to her engraving style. Instead, there is the painting from Santa Marta, which I believe is, like the engraving, a reflection of Daniele da Volterra's model and invention. The model for both the painting and the engraving seems to have been a drawing of the saint with his hat and crucifix, in good detail except for the hand lifting the stone, which Diana worked out for herself. There must have been a roughly indicated cave with a lion, a dead tree stump on a rise, and clouds in the background. Similar enough in most details, the overall difference between the engraving and the painting, aside from the dimension of color, is due to a series of small but important variations for the look of the print. This is also precisely where we observe the limits of Diana's training as an engraver. The saint's right hand, for example, is anchored to a stone at the penitent's side in the engraving rather than, as in the painting, foreshortened at the end of a forearm turned by the use of muscles at work in the upper arm and shoulder. The other hand, elegantly supporting the crucifix and exhibiting no real foreshortening, is rendered without difficulty. The grief and emotional turbulence that contort the face of the painted saint have become, through the shifting of a few lines, rapt adoration in the engraved one. In Diana's engraving the metaphor of lion (fortitude) and saint (fortitude) has been stated more literally, so that they now wear matching hairstyles. The tensely courageous painted lion, in fact, becomes tamed into a printed emblem taken from a model having nothing whatever to do with the inventor of the image of Saint Jerome. The engraved lion is made to seem humble and very much reduced not only in size but also by a reduction in shadow, the result of the necessity on Diana's part of producing a legible lion in transparent and deep darkness using cut lines. Diana seemed unaware that the size of the lion would be a problem, or else was unable to negotiate the challenge of enlarging the medieval-looking beast from the model she used. Although enlarging and reducing drawn models was one of the skills at which her father had been adept, he did not seem to have passed on this aspect of his profession to his daughter.(46) The effect is that in its re-formation the model of penance has been rather calmed down, almost domesticated. This is not inappropriate for a (relatively) small engraving, as opposed to an altarpiece designed for public worship in a church.
There are other differences, too, that have to do with problems of color (hue, but also the sfumato effect of a suggestive drawing medium like charcoal) and engraving: how, for example, to differentiate the evidence of age in a slight slackening of skin that covers the bone and muscle, from the evidence of modesty in the folds of a robe covering ascetic nakedness, without the aid of crimson paint? Diana employed a combination of at least three completely different engraving systems for shadow. Shadow proper (the umber cave) is the most mechanical, as if the lack of light meant the necessity of repelling the viewer's attention, turning it to the saint. The robe is made of a system of parallel lines, with modifications for folds and mounds, a semi-mechanical pattern for an inanimate object. The flesh of the saint (his penitential body, the living substance without which the image has no point) emerges from a complex system designed to render a complex shape accurately. The little dots which were employed to create spreading shade, or to fade the edges of dark shadow on flesh, do double duty here. In the dots around the muscles of the chest, which define the course of the folds in the robe, we can see the marks a painter follows when a drawn model, perforated with tiny holes, is pounced to leave the imprint of its most significant guiding contours. The dots stand for more than detail; they also offer (and represent) accuracy. They occur most conspicuously in the part of the drawing we can understand to represent the model and invention of Daniele da Volterra.
This is thoughtful work and minutely, laboriously executed. Like most things designed to be blameless, it manages with great care and attention to detail to overlook the most important characteristics of the painter's technique. The chiaroscuro, which in the painting leaves only the saint's face and shoulders and the lion's mouth in full light, is broken up and scattered through the engraving. The mediation of the passages between white paper and shaded image area is effected by a series of Diana's combination systems. Instead of a legible transition between foreground and background, skin and folds, one object and another, the print becomes an almost arbitrary series of the rehearsal of shading conventions in dots and lines. Giorgio Ghisi, who also learned how to engrave in Mantua, avoided both mechanical shading combinations and difficult-to-read images by working the surfaces of his plates until they were so covered with tone he could pick out the brightest lights by judiciously opening the net of marks. The St. Jerome is more chaotic than this. The detailed burin work and the copy dots along guiding contours merge the flesh, the folds of cloth and the veined and anchored arm with the furrows of the softly scarred earth.
This print was never reissued, unlike many of Diana's prints that enjoyed a commercial popularity over at least two further centuries. The wording of the privilege suggests that Diana's models (the drawings she traced onto engraving plates which she then carved) were not usually made by the inventors of the images she engraved. In other words, in order to make her engravings Diana relied on drawn copies of paintings, and these copies were probably most often made by someone other than herself. There is no evidence that she was skilled, as her father was, in disegno (here, the ability to draw). Daniele da Volterra's drawing posed a challenge for her that was worth the mention in the privilege. This may have been one of the few prints that she made from a drawing that was not made for the express purpose of serving as a model for an engraving, and was therefore not as finished as the drawings Diana normally used.
The privilege did not constrain others from using the print as a model for work in a different medium. Lavinia Fontana, a painter who was well-trained in drawing, seems to have chosen Diana's print as a model for her painting of ca. 1581.(47) This painting reproduces the position of the arm holding the stone, the pet-like lion and the halo, and is signed but bears no mention of Diana's name, nor that of Daniele da Volterra. Unlike prints, paintings were not expected to carry such information, even when they were straightforward copies.
It had been standard practice for prints to bear some reference to the name of the inventor of the image almost since the beginning of single-sheet engravings. The inventors were an important component of Diana Mantuana's work not only because their fame had some claim on a share of the market but because the inventors had all worked for the papal court, proving themselves to be safe models and competent guides for images engraved by a foreign (non-Roman) woman. The Saint Jerome is therefore signed "DANIEL VOLATER. INVENT. DIANA ROMAE INCIDEBAT," followed by the privilege line. Vatican taste was generally a safe choice, even in the case of the renegade Giulio Romano. We saw Diana and her husband making reference to it again in the provenance of the Ionic volute. Nine years after the death of Daniele da Volterra, Diana Mantuana, identified in the papal privilege as the wife of the architect Francesco Capriani, gave that identity an emblematic image with an engraving of a Michelangelesque image by a Volterran painter from a church behind St. Peter's, reminding the public that the fount of Volterran talent was something worth replenishing.
The prints mentioned in the privilege that Diana engraved after images by Giulio Romano bear even more text. They were all inscribed to members of the Gonzaga family with Diana's gracious, carefully worded, unusually elaborate personal dedications.(48)
We know what some printers felt they were supposed to be doing when they dedicated prints because four of them testified on the subject in their own words in a criminal trial in the early seventeenth century. Those printers made it clear that there are "those who dedicate and those who make gifts both through their liberality and their courtesy," and those who made gifts received an impression of the dedicated print "on paper, or on satin or taffeta or other material as we are used to doing, and which is commonly done by everyone."(49) The person receiving the dedication may respond, or may have already responded with a financial gift or less tangible favor that could be directly related to the production of that print, but also often simply with a continuous tendency to support the dedicator in a variety of ways over a longer period of time.(50) We can see how this worked in the three dedicated engravings mentioned in Diana's privilege based on inventions of Giulio Romano.
Diana's Marcia di Cavalieri is a three-panel engraving which reflects a design by Giulio Romano for a stucco frieze of galloping gladiators on horseback made by her father in the Palazzo Te [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 6 OMITTED]. She dedicated the engraving with a simple line in careful and elegant script at the bottom center of the middle panel: "To the most Illustrious Lord Scipione Gonzaga/Diana Mantuana." On the surface, Scipione would not seem to be a promising means of Gonzaga support. He was one of the less well-off members of the family, and from a tangential branch of it as well. Although he would eventually become a cardinal, in 1575 he was not even a priest. He was simply a poet, a famous patron of writers and musicians, and also one of the first serious print collectors. In 1575 he was busy editing the manuscript of Gerusalemme Liberata for his friend and house guest, Torquato Tasso. Diana would have known of Scipione because her brother engraved the frontispiece for a collection of poetry of the literary academy which included Tasso, and which met at Scipione Gonzaga's house.(51) For Diana and Francesco his patronage in Rome would mean good publicity among other print collectors and perhaps seed money for further printing ventures. But goodwill in Scipione Gonzaga's circle could be equally important in other less direct ways, such as obtaining introductions in any number of situations to print-admiring aristocrats in papal circles who might be in need of architects.
In 1575 Francesco Capriani was already accepting more ecclesiastical commissions than private ones. The distinction between the two types of commissions becomes unclear in the case of cardinals' families, and indeed Francesco's most stable connection with a cardinal, Cardinal Caetani, kept him in the employ of a noble Roman family for many years. One of the original transitional figures between the Gonzaga and Roman work was Francesco Peranda, first Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga's secretary at Rome, and then secretary to Cardinal Caetani.(52) In a letter Peranda wrote to Francesco to inform him that he had been chosen to provide a design for the tomb of Nicolo Caetani, he includes highly flattering remarks about another of the early Roman prints made by Diana. In his notice to Francesco, Peranda praises her skill and her renown, remarking that "the works of your Madame Diana are most wonderful, and that Feast of the Gods is a stupendous thing, so much so that I, who have held the greatest opinion of her, am overwhelmed by her worthiness, and confess that I have had a less high opinion of her than she deserves."(53) The passage suggests that an impression of Diana's print had been presented to Peranda, who closed the letter saying: "I beg you to recommend me to your Madonna Diana, thanking her for her greetings."(54)
The Feast of the Gods [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 7 OMITTED] is another three-sheet engraving, this one based on the frescoes of Giulio Romano's story of Psyche in the Palazzo Te at Mantua. Part of its impressiveness is due to the size of the piece when assembled, which stretches over the length of a folio.(55) The print shows sections of the bottom register of the fresco, somewhat abridged, most noticeably to omit Psyche on her marriage bed. The engraving is mentioned in the June privilege and may have already been known in Mantua, because when Diana dedicated it to Claudio Gonzaga on 1 September 1575 she referred to her dedication as a kind of rebirth. In the bottom of the left-hand panel of the engraving Diana inscribed the following: "To the most illustrious Lord Claudio Gonzaga. Diana Mantuana. It is fitting that this labor of mine, having come to life under the rule of your most excellent house, receives new life under your lordship's name, because now it enters the world favored by you with the most ample privilege of the sanctity of Our Lord. Accept this then with a kind heart, and with it the service of my house in Rome."(56) This is an astonishingly self-possessed dedication from a young, non-aristocratic woman to one of the Mantuan ruling family living as a high-ranking member of the Roman court, boldly comparing in one well-balanced sentence her household in Rome with the illustrious House of Gonzaga. Claudio Gonzaga was also the recipient of a published letter from Peranda, which congratulated him on his appointment to the position of majordomo to Gregory XIII.(57) The majordomo was one of the pope's closest familiars, and apropos of the subject of the print, he was responsible, among other things, for the papal menu. The office of majordomo was part of the Sacro Palazzo, and it seems from Diana's dedication that Claudio Gonzaga had somehow used his position and influence to be helpful to her in attaining her privilege.
In Rome the Feast of the Gods was a subject associated with the happy ending of the labors of Psyche. Psyche cycles were famously Roman just after the death of Raphael. The cycles painted by members of his workshop in the Villa Chigi and in the Castel Sant' Angelo were engraved in their entirety in popular sets by Nicholas Beatrizet, Agostino Veneziano and the Master of the Die. When Giulio Romano painted such a cycle in the Palazzo Te, a Gonzaga palace that made much of its garden setting while in reality only minutes from the main castle, he was recalling the Roman "hortus" of the Sienese banker which he had painted earlier with a more restrained version of the same subject. But the exuberant and erotic Mantuan Psyche was not as well-known in Rome as the Sala dei Giganti a few rooms away, which received more attention and was the subject of many far-ranging copies.
Claudio Gonzaga, noticing both the missing marriage bed scene and the courteous dedication, would have understood that the riotous fresco in Mantua had been the source for a more decorous engraving that would now have new currency in papal Rome, a half century after its invention. In Counter-Reformation Rome the bawdy Mantuan cycle would do better in the form of a carefully selected series of scenes, especially from the hand of a female engraver. It has been noted that Diana probably omitted the marriage scene because Giorgio Ghisi had engraved it only the year before.(58) But if the two Mantuan engravers were to share the fresco out between them, it stands to reason that Ghisi would take on the evocative central portion of the narrative, operating as he was under the protection of the publisher Pietro Facchetti, as well as with the greater license he could assume as a privilege of gender.(59)
The missing scene also changes the subject of the engraving slightly, so that it can no longer truthfully be called The Wedding of Psyche, as it usually (and erroneously) is in modern literature. It was referred to only as The Feast of the Gods when mentioned in letters and print shop inventories of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.(60) The print does not show the scenes included in the fresco which make the feast the happy ending of the labors of Psyche; references to her marriage are implicit and covert. Diana's free adaptation of Giulio Romano's design further tames the eroticism of the fresco while keeping its luxurious and celebratory nature intact by leaving all the exotic animals in and taking most of the more satyr-like figures out. The last sheet of the print on the right, showing Venus and Mars bathing together, is the most overtly erotic of the scenes Diana left in, but it is also a wholly detachable part of the engraving bearing no text, and without which the central diptych is perfectly readable. Diana also added plaques inscribed in Greek and Latin hanging from the greenery where, in the frescoed room, only gilded volutes punctuate the long walls. The first gives the subject and title of the print in Greek, "The Feast of All the Gods," and the second, in Latin, a warning copped from Sallust that emphasizes the exclusive nature of the gathering, "Keep Off."(61) The dedication to the pope's majordomo effectively elides the scene's wedding context while leaving intact the concept of preparation for an exclusive, luxurious, sacramental meal - even if a somewhat disorderly and naked one.
Along with the benefit of her own and her husband's continued services, Diana Mantuana's print offered Claudio Gonzaga an image which complimented his classical education, his family's patronage of the arts, and his own occupation and position. It seems to thank him for aid in obtaining her printing privilege, making evident her relocation to Rome and the willingness of her "house" to accept work. It also connected her quite publicly with a cleaned-up, late cinquecento Giulio Romano, the painter who had done so brilliantly in Rome as the successor of Raphael until he disgraced himself by designing a set of erotic drawings for Marcantonio Raimondi to engrave, and left for Mantua and greater fame.
The third engraving after Giulio Romano, Christ and the Adulteress [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 8 OMITTED], was the only one aimed back to the court in Mantua, and was, like the Feast of the Gods, dedicated on 1 September 1575, this time to Eleanora of Austria, who, as wife of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga, was the duchess of Mantua. On leaving, Diana was careful to reconfirm a beneficial connection, cautiously keeping bridges intact: "To her Serene Highness Lady Eleonora of Austria, Duchess of Mantua/Diana Mantuan/ I feel myself so tied to the memory of Your Ladyship's most fortunate dominion, under which I was born and learned what little virtu I possess, that to satisfy in part the gratitude in my soul I have been so bold as to bring this work of mine to light under her great name, in order that, returning to where it had its beginning, it serves her prince again, as a token of my service to Your Highness and your most serene house. From Rome, September 1, 1575."(62) The design by Giulio Romano shows Christ and the young woman standing in the portico of a round temple framed by the twisting Byzantine columns which recall the ancient columns of St. Peter's in Rome, but more specifically one of the tapestries Raphael and his workshop designed for the Sistine chapel. The scene of the Healing of the Cripple takes place amid just such columns: Giulio Romano evidently recycled the motif for Christ and the Adulteress, while the two seated figures at the foot of the stairs recall moments from another of the tapestries, The Death of Ananais. The Gonzaga were one of the private parties who had bought a set of the tapestries, woven from the same drawings as the papal originals, for their own palace.(63) They were an ostentatious and extremely costly feature of the Mantuan palace's decoration. The visual references to a specifically Gonzaga-related version of the heritage of Raphael and the connection to Vatican taste and wealth made an eloquent statement of Diana's double allegiances to Mantua and to Rome.
The dedicated print, once presented to the dedicatee, entered into a specific circuit of gift-giving and the reception of favors. But there were still many impressions of the same print in wider circulation bearing the same dedication, such as the Feast of the Gods dedicated to Claudio Gonzaga which was presented to Francesco Peranda. The dedication functioned in these cases as well, if a bit more obliquely. Any sixteenth-century viewer would find Diana's prints bristling with text, and would take far more interested notice than we do of the name and position of the dedicatee, the elegant wording of the dedication and the degree of familiarity in the address, the specificity of favors already received. The impressive privilege, always in block letters to show its status as legal wording rather than the elegant letter-style cursive of the dedication, further endowed the print with an importance and desirability that took in the wider circle of Mantuan and Roman nobility. In later printings, as the fame of the engravings snowballed with time, they accrued their own authority as historical objects.
In the early 1580s Diana mined Mantuan imagery one last time in order to engrave an ambitious decorated Lunario calculated by her husband and illustrated with minuscule pictures taken from the astrological motifs in the Sala dei Venti of the Palazzo Te.(64) It could be issued every year simply by changing the date on the plate, but Sixtus V put an end to such necromancy by making such astrological almanacs a kind of heretical text. No more prints were issued that sought to confirm Mantuan connections, and the diplomatic connections Diana worked to strengthen by dedicating her prints began to revolve around two different centers: Volterra, where her husband was born, and Rome, where they both lived and worked.
In 1582 Diana engraved Baccio Bandinelli's Martyrdom of St. Lawrence after an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 9 OMITTED].(65) It was a good choice for a dedication to the Florentine Cardinal Ferdinando de'Medici, the new cardinal protector of the Compagnia di San Giuseppe. He was also next in line for the leadership of the ruling family of Tuscany, of which Volterra was a province. Diana's dedication ran as follows: "Knowing the devotion of the House of Medici to St. Lawrence, and how pleasing to it is the story of his martyrdom made in the past by Bandinelli and today almost in ruin, I wished to re-engrave it to preserve it for a long time, and to dedicate it to your Most Illustrious Lordship with the service of my own house. December 1582. Diana Mantuana Civis Valeterana Incidebat Romae DLXXXII."(66)
In those years work was progressing on the refurbishing of the Volterra cathedral, for which Francesco was designing a gilded intaglio ceiling. The work, which proceeded sporadically from 1580 until 1584, was dependent on financing from the Pope, the Medici, and the donations of any wealthy Volterran families who cared to contribute.(67) The theme of remodeling and reclaiming is picked up in Diana's dedication, which clearly alludes to Marcantonio's previous engraving. Patriotism and civic pride, family, piety and renovation are important shared enthusiasms recommending the services of the Mantuan and Volterran expatriates to the "House" of the dedicatee. There was no pretense to originality in terms of subject matter: the copy here was, as Diana's father had protested to Granvelle when copying Venusti's drawings of the Michelangelo fresco, "a thing in itself." The engraver counted on having chosen the right gift and a suitable occasion for making her 'house' known to the Tuscan cardinal living in Rome.
In general Francesco's colleagues, who were busy with any number of papal and private commissions, provided the models Diana needed after 1575. In all, including the work she did before she left Mantua, over seventy-five engravings are attributed to Diana with varying degrees of certainty. While in Rome she engraved images her husband copied in Volterra, and pictures that were provided by Raffaelino, Durante and Cherubino Alberti, Federico Zuccaro and other Counter-Reformation painters. She also may have taken on a few commissions.
Diana's printmaking seems to have stopped at about the time when Francesco could securely be called one of the foremost architects of papal Rome. Giacomo della Porta, who had earlier provided the damning technical recommendation to the Gonzaga agent, changed his mind by the end of Francesco's career and was calling him one of the two best architects in Rome.(68) By 1590 Francesco had been considered a capable architect already for some years, and was not short of work. In spite of his early blunders at Guastalla and the continuing distaste for him at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, Francesco da Volterra became one of the most prolific architects of the late Counter-Reformation in Rome, and was a respected member of the Roman artistic community. Strangely, though he designed and built more cardinal's palaces, chapels, confraternity houses, fountains and churches than most late sixteenth-century architects, he is relatively unknown in the twentieth century; his unusual wife became the more legendary figure.
The legend of Diana eventually grew to obscure even the few known facts about the two artists' lives that one normally can know with some certainty. The dates of both artists' deaths were mixed up through a romantic bit of art history involving Diana's last dated print, a Deposition after a painting by Paris Nogari [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 10 OMITTED].(69) This devotional engraving is inscribed along the bottom "Vide Domine Afflictione Mea," and is dated 1588. This inscription, coupled with the figure of the dead, mourned male carried to the foreground and understood as the work of a female engraver, has been assumed to express Diana's natural grief at the time of her husband's death.(70) Francesco actually died in 1594, but even this fact has not quelled the certainty that the subject matter of Diana's engravings had personal, expressive meaning.(71) The image is now understood as evidence that Diana herself was suffering from a final illness or a disease that crippled the hands, either condition making it impossible for her to produce further prints.(72) However, Diana has recently turned up in several documents which show that she continued to live with her husband after 1588 and then as a widow in Rome with her son, her mother and her sister. A few years after Francesco's death she married another architect and lived with him a few blocks from her old house until her death in 1612.(72) If she issued engravings during her second marriage they are neither signed nor dated. There is no reason to suspect that Diana would issue unsigned engravings; as we have seen, such an enterprise would have had little value to her.
The important issue for historians concerns our perception of how to look at - and how to "read" - reproductive images like Diana's engravings. They are anything but expressive of personal emotion. The Mantuan correspondence between cardinals, intellectuals and artisans bears testimony to the importance and prevalence of hand-drawn and painted copies, examples of which quite openly formed a significant part of many major Renaissance and baroque collections.(74) Taking this into account gives us an idea of how much stampe di traduzione were valued in the sixteenth-century - from the engravers who made them, to the Pope and the cardinals that protected, financed and collected them, to the merchants and the popolo we speak of as consuming them. Now it is clearer what kind of "thing in itself" a copy was expected to be.
Reinstituting Diana's practice of engraving in its historical context is more than a matter of setting it down in a field of facts, events and institutions. Over the last three centuries the archaizing organization of Diana's artisan family at one of the last surviving chivalric courts was cast in modern form so that she was never again known by the name she used in her lifetime. This is partially due to modern notions about the social and intellectual status of artists in and after the Renaissance, and partially to the lack of analytical tools in the field of art history with which to study most of the images produced in the Renaissance, or for that matter, now - images whose originality is located more easily in their uses than in their subject matter, style, or technique. The dense fabric of late sixteenth-century Roman society has gone threadbare over time as institutions like ducal courts and family workshops became obsolete, the tradition of dedicating prints died out altogether, and the ways that images were important in a life like Diana's became an unvalued and unimportant part of the way we interpret the history of art. The prints alone survive, cut free of their network, inscrutable and embarrassed representatives of women's art from the early modern period. They are housed indiscriminately in museums alongside prints by Mantegna and Picasso. They are asked to compete with the originals from which they were made. Diana herself is reconstituted as the single woman artist Vasari wrote about who he also says he met, and she remains a curiosity among artist's lives.
Diana's unusual case helps us to point out ways in which we deal badly with Renaissance reproductive imagery in particular, but also, more broadly, with any number of important and lucrative fields which were separated from the medieval artisan's model and did not become the Accademia's Belli Arti. A history of these images and their makers provides us with material for a history of a society's literacy in images. By the same token, our view of the career of a male Counter-Reformation architect is made more comprehensible when we consider his wife's activity at its center.
I make no claim for the ability of Diana's engravings to stand on their own in galleries that show a progression of the arts; in fact, this is the surest way to know nothing at all about them. Diana's work functioned differently, and in ways it was even regressive. She never met Giulio Romano, and many of the images she engraved had first been made a lifetime before hers. Her own printmaking, she said more than once, gave new life to old images in a society that was not yet quite so entrenched in its obsession with absolute novelty, and which knew how to use what it already had in its possession. Reproductive prints installed images within culture, using and reusing those images which a society knew by heart. Diana Mantuana's trade in reproductive engraving illustrates the flexibility of printmaking as a career that evolved in constant dialogue with changes in the structures of Italian society at the end of the sixteenth century. More than a hundred years after Mantegna and Pollaiuolo startled Italy with their single-sheet pictorial engravings, this kind of printmaking was still a suggestive new technology, helping artisans who worked with drawings to get on with things in a period of social transition.
1 Voluta di capitello ionico (Bellini, 29): "Volutam hanc e veteri Capitello compositi ordinis columnae numidici lapidis/Divi Petri in Vaticano per Baptistam de Petra Santa et Franc(ciscu)m Volterranu(m) ad communem huiusce artis studiosoru(m) utilitate(m) formatam./Diana Mantuana eiusdem Fran(cis)ci uxor Romae incidebat. MDLXXVI."
2 Vasari, see below.
3 Prints by Diana have been found signed "Diana," "Diana Filia," "Diana Mantuano," "Diana Mantovana," "Diana Mantuana Civis Volaterana" and variations of those signatures. One very early print, St. George and the Dragon, probably after a drawing by her father, bears the signature "Diana Sc. Mantuana," which probably stands for Sculpsit or Scultor.
4 Marcucci, 82-83. The remodeling was undertaken by the archconfraternity of the bergameschi. Francesco's collaborator, Battista di Pietrasanta, was the scarpellino who cut the travertine and supplied the bricks for the facade of the church, next to San Ignazio.
5 Ibid., 85: "per aver fatto il disegno della cappella per il goldi et per la pianta fatta de tutto il sito per far la fabrica delospitale et altri disegni fatti." This was the Goldi chapel, completed in 1577.
6 Bertani. See also Carpeggiani, 25 ff.
7 Pellati, 1963; and idem, 1967.
8 Diana's birth and death dates have been established respectively as Mantua, 1547-48, and Rome, 1612, by Pagani, 1992.
9 Vasari, 6:490: "Insomma, da che io vidi altra volta Mantoa a questo anno 1566 che l'ho riveduta, ell'e tanto piu adornata e piu bella, che, se io non l'avessi veduta, nol crederei . . . e che piu, vi sono multiplicati gl'artefici e vi vanno tuttavia multiplicando; con cio sia Giovambattista Mantoano, intagliator di stampe e scultore eccellente, del quale abbiam favellato nella Vita di Giulio Romano e in quella di Marcantonio Bolognese, soho nati due figliuoli che intagliano stampe di rame divinamente; e che e cosa piu maravigliosa, una figliuola chiamata Diana intaglia anch'ella tanto bene, che e cosa maravigliosa: ed io che ho veduto lei, che e molto gentile e graziosa fanciulla, e l'opere sue che sono bellissime, ne sono restato stupefatto."
10 Little is known about Diana's mother, Osanna del Acquanegro, other than the fact that, as was commonly done, she went to live with her daughter after becoming a widow. Bazzotti and Savoia, 10, and documents listed in Pagani, 1992.
11 For Giovanni Battista Bertani see Carpeggiani.
12 Arrivabene: "vicino al palco di Sua Altezza si scopersero, senza sapersi come, quattro bellissimi Altari, formati all'antica, con quattro figure di Dei, grandi come mezani Colossi, et formati con tanta ragione & artificio, che pochi altri che misser Giovanbattista Scultore famoso, havrebbe saputo formarle di quel la finezza & belta."
13 Giovanni Battista's family name has been much discussed. See Bazzotti and Savoia; and Pagani, 1992. He usually signed his letters "Giovanni Battista Scultori" and "Giovanni Battista, Scultor." His engravings were signed "Giovanni Battista Mantovano," "I.B.Mantuanus, Sculptor," or monogrammed "I.B.M." or variations of that name.
14 Vasari, Vita di Marcantonio Bolognese, 5:427. He is also mentioned in the Vita di Giulio Romano; the meeting with Diana is in the Vita di Benvenuto Garofalo.
15 "Ma qui sono cosl triste maestri per simile efetto, ch'io mi diffido di poternela far servire." In a letter to Giulio Cesarino, 1559. Reprinted in Campori, 34. See also Brown, 205.
16 "[I]l miglior maestro o al manco cativo che habbiamo in questa terra" ASMn Registro 6498, c. 128:20 March 1551, cited in Brown, 205.
17 Letter of Federico Gonzaga to Giulio Romano, 18 July 1528, printed in Ferrari, 1:285; and letters of Bertani to Duke Guglielmo, ASMn AG b. 2577 f. 915, 916, and 917 (documents transcribed in Lincoln, 227-28).
18 The letters are printed in Lettere di Artisti Italiani. See also Albricci, 9-12. For Cardinal Granvelle, see Durme, 1957(1) and idem 1957(2); and the entry under Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle in the Dictionnaire d'histoire et geographie ecclesiastique, v. 21; see also Voet.
19 Lettere, Madrid, letter 3. "Per una de V.S.R. a vedo che quella non sta satisfatto in tutto del libro de li disegni per non essere di quella aparenza che lei desiderava. Vero e che s'io li avessi ritratti dalli originali in Roma mi da l'animo che li arei fatti di altra maniera, ma secondo la copia ch'io tengo li ho fatti, e sono una cosa istessa." The editor believes that Giovanni Battista was working from the drawings ordered from Marcello Venusti for Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga in 1541, for which see Pastor, 808-09; Brown; and Vasari, 5:553. Two drawings are listed in the 1627 inventory of the Gonzaga art collection published in Luzio, 89-136, item 333: "Un quadro con il disegno del giudizio di Michelangelo, di mano di Marcello con cornici" and 638: "Un disegno grande del giuditio di Michelangelo, di mano di Marcello." There was also probably by this time a large engraving of the subject by Giovanni Battista's student Giorgio Ghisi. See Lewis and Boorsch, 53-57. Although there is compelling evidence for the drawings sent to Granvelle being copies of Venusti's Last Judgement drawings, the subject of Giovanni Battista's drawings is never specified beyond their provenance from the Sistine Chapel. A series of seventy-two bound engravings by Adamo Scultori of figures from the spandrels of the ceiling (B. 27-98) may reflect his father's drawings.
20 See Albricci; and Lettere di Artisti Italiani, letters 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8.
21 Ibid., letter 4: "mando ancora una carta novamente tagliata in rame da mio figliolo, perche ho terminato che de quante stampe esso taliara, V.S. ne abia le primizie."
22 Ibid., letter 9.
23 For Francesco Capriani da Volterra, see Vasari, 6: 489-90; Baglione; Affo, 2: 21-22; Ciaci; Hibbard, 713 if.; Tafuri; Pagani, 1991, 140-45; idem, 1992; Coffin; and Marcucci. In 1559 Francesco was working as an architect in Rome: see Marcucci, 351 n. 9.
24 Affo, 33-34, letter of 13 May 1568.
25 Ibid., 34.
26 Ibid., Cesare Gonzaga to Thomaso Filippi, 21 May 1568: "Mi meraviglio molto di Volterra, che per eseguir la volenta mia ricerchi piu di quel ch'io ordino. Percio fate che si fondi la Chiesa, e che non mi si stia a domandare se io ho licenza o no, che io non ho a dame conto a niuao, sapendo io molto bene quello ch'io ho da fare in una Terra mia."
27 Marcucci, 354.
28 Bertolotti, 1882, 17, letter from Monsignore Aurelio Zibramonte to Ferrante II Gonzaga, 30 April 1583.
29 The report was made by Giacomo della Porta. For the agent's understanding of architectural skills, see Bertollotti, 1885, n. 36: "Because I do not understand this science, I am sending your lordship three drawings made by him from which your lordship will be able to tell if he draws well or not."
30 ASR Atti Romauli, 30 Notai Capitolini, off. 30 (1571) vol. 26, f. 599v-602v. Conventio between S. Agostino and "Magister Franciscus quondam Johannes de Caprianus de Volterra att. Volterra architector et faberlignamius."
31 Affo, 30. ASR Atti Romauli, 30 Notai Capitolini off. 30, vol. 28 f. 242v.-245r for the granting of the house in 1573. For the facade see Pericoli Ridolfini, 32-33, pl. VI and VII; and Baglione, 26, who describes "diversi puttini molto ben coloriti, e assai gratiosi, e alcune historiette di chiaro, e scuro, e nel mezzo evvi la Virtu, che tien per mano Hercole, e'l Genio, e vanno verso il Tempio dell'Eternita, a buonissimo fresco dipinta."
32 For the Alberti family see the DBI, 1:675 if.
33 Archivio Communale di Volterra, A. nera 107 c. 290 if., printed in Cinci.
34 Note that in Volterra Francesco was known by a name that placed him in relation to his father: Francesco di Giovanni Capriani.
35 For the document about Daniele's citizenship, see Pugliatti, 26. Daniele enjoyed great popularity among Mantuan painters of the second half of the Cinquecento.
36 Cinci: "questa nobilissima patria della quale tiene scolpito il nome seco."
37 For example, the print after Domenico Ghirlandaio's altarpiece in the Volterran Abbey of S. Giusto, B. 25, inscribed "Alia citta di Volterra/Quello che da te ho preso/ quello ti rinuovo et/ dedicho." The Adoration of the Shepherds after Peter de Witte, also from a painting from the same abbey (not in Bartsch, Pass. 48; Bellini 55) bears a similar inscription.
38 Raffaelino da Reggio, Francesco's assistant from Guastalla, went on to decorate the Vatican, the Farnese palace at Caprarola and the freshly refurbished chapels of Roman churches. For illustrations of the house facade, see Pericoli Ridolfini, pl. VI and VII.
39 From Vasari's tone it would appear that a female engraver was an uncommon occurrence. He had reported the activities of two early sixteenth-century female engravers besides Diana: Marcantonio Raimondi's wife, and Properzia de' Rossi of Bologna. Diana was the only one of those women he would meet. He would, at least by the 1570s, know that the Alberti had an engraving sister, although her profession as a nun may have meant that he was unlikely to meet her. Nothing further is known about Marcantonio Raimondi's wife, Elizabeth. For Properzia de' Rossi, see Jacobs.
40 I have checked the records for privileges issued from the Secretaria Brevia for Rome, Venice, and Mantua from the papacy of Paul III to that of Sixtus V.
41 For this, see Consagra. Blasio, 50-51 and elsewhere, shows that the privileges requested and granted in the early sixteenth century, as well as the bulls charging the Sacro Palazzo with the office of controlling all typographic production, specifically mentioned the printing of characters and texts. The archive of the Maestro del Sacro Palazzo in the Archivio Secreto Vaticano contains little material from before the eighteenth century. I have not been able to trace the relevant sixteenth-century papers of that office.
42 These bandi are collected in ASV: Misc. ARM. IV-V, vol. 30. Bandi e editti. The document of 1597 is f. 173.
43 ASV, ARM XLII ('28), c. 213r-v: 5 June 1575: "Inhibentes omnibus, et singulis utriusque sexus praesertim Bibliopolis, sculptoribus, Incisoribus, et impressoribus quibuscumque sub excommunicationis latae sententia Vrbe, et locis quibuscumque Sanctae Romanae Ecdesiae mediate, et immediate subiectis et quingentorum ducatorum auri de Camera et insuper amissionis operis poena toties." The full document is transcribed in Lincoln, 225-26.
44 Ibid: "Diana Mantuana uxor dilecti filii Francisci Cipriani Architecti, quae cum eo in hac alma Vrbe nostra commoratur complura opera plurimorum excellentium Pictorurn, et sculptorum hactenus sculspserit [sic], et in aes inciderit [,] . . . utique Historiam Euangelii de adultera, Conuiuium Deorum, Cursu, seu [. . .] equorum Triumphi Caesaris ex Iulii Romani, Natiuitatem Domini nostri Iesu Christi, ex Iulii miniatoris, Imaginem Sancti Hieronimi ex Danielis de Vulterra modulis et inuentionibus."
45 The painting is S. Gerolamo, Vatican City, Pinacoteca Vaticana, currently attributed to Gerolamo Muziano; see Mancinelli, 215-19; and Pugliatti, both cited in Bellini, 209, who takes Diana Mantuana's privilege to be proof that the painting is by Daniele da Volterra. Actually, the privilege claims that image of the saint which Diana used to make her engraving was the invention of Daniele da Volterra.
46 Giovanni Battista Scultori would have used small drawings of Giulio Romano's to make the stucco friezes in the Palazzo Te, which would have required some enlargement, and also used drawings by Giulio Romano for engravings, which would have meant a reduction. Enlarging and reducing drawn models was one of the necessary skills that the Roman academy claimed it would teach its students in the statutes drafted by Gerolamo Muziano, printed in Missirini, 4-8.
47 Cantaro, cat. 4a. 30, 104. The author dates the painting ca. 1581 on a stylistic basis. It is unlikely that Fontana's painting would have served as the model for Diana's print.
48 Mr. R.E. Lewis first drew my attention to the fact that Diana's inscriptions were relevant and unusual.
49 The four were Camillo Cungi, Valeriano Regnartio, Matteo Greuter, and Luca Ciamberlano. See ASR Protocollo Processi n. 302, f. 808 and 827, reprinted in Bertolotti, 1880, 226. Further excerpts and testimony are printed in Ehrle, with a contrasting statement by Iohannes Iacobus Scialin.
50 See also Haskell for mid seventeenth-century practice in financing expensive projects involving illustrated books, specifically John Ogilvy's project of 1654.
51 Rime degli Academici Eterei.
52 Marcucci, 73.
53 Peranda, 106-07: "L'opere di Madonna Diana vostra sono mirabilissime, et quel convivio des Dei e cosa stupenda; tal che io, che tenevo grandissima opinione di lei resto superato del valor suo, et confesso, che lie portavo concerto inferlore al merito." The portion of the letter dealing with Francesco's instructions is quoted in Marcucci, 133.
54 Peranda, 106-07.
55 Small prints and printed material were the accepted format for popular, chapbook type publications, illustrated with woodcuts. A large engraved triptych claims opposite status. See, most recently, Grendler.
56 "All'Ill.mo S.r Claudio Gonzaga/ Diana Mantuana/ e cosa conveniente che questa mia fatica havendo ricevuto/ l'essere sotto il dominio dell'Eccell.ma casa vostra riceva ancora il ben essere sotto il nome di V.S. Ill.mo poiche hora ella/viene in luce favorita da lei con l'amplissimo Privilegio della S.ta di Nostro Sig.r Ricevila dunque con benigno animo/et con essa la servitu di casa mia in Roma il di' primo/d'l di Settembre MDLXXV." Both Bellini and Massari are certain that the plate was engraved in Rome, from drawings Diana brought with her from Mantua, which they believe were then used to decorate the Villa Albani in the eighteenth century. Besides the fact that it would have been difficult to engrave these plates and print them in the short time between Diana's arrival in Rome and her request for the privilege, she refers to them as labors of hers that would receive new life in Rome, making it clear that they were engraved first in Mantua.
57 Peranda, 28v. The letter is not dated.
58 Bellini, 202. The Ghisi engraving is B. 45; Lewis/Boorsch, 50. Diana's print also leaves out groups of figures around the table that Mercury approaches, changes figures to make them less ambiguous, and takes other liberties with placement of decorations, landscape and figures such as the river goddess at the center foreground of the composition, and the cave in which Mars and Venus bathe.
59 Ghisi's plate was judged obscene by Pope Leo XII in 1823 and destroyed (Massari, cat. 230); the whereabouts of Diana's plates for this engraving are unknown.
60 Bellini, 23; and Massari, 149, who does discuss the alternation between the two kinds of titles for the print.
61 The first plaque is inscribed "Symphosion toyt esti theon," the second "Procul este profani."
62 Christ and the Adulteress, B.4, 1575: "Alla Serenissima Signora Lionora d'Austria Duchessa di Mantova/Diana Mantuana/ Io mi sento tanto tenuta alia memoria del feliciss.ma Dominio di Ora Altissimo sotto del quale io nacqui et appresi quella poco virtu che io posse[g]go che per sodisfare in parte alia gratitudine dell'animo mio ho preso ardire di mandar in luce questa mia fatica sotto il gran nome di quella accioche ritornando dov'ella hebbe il suo principe serva ancora per pegno alia servitu mio verso di V.A. et della serenissima casa sua di Roma. il primo di settembre M.D.LXXV."
63 The tapestries were acquired by Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga, and hung in the church of Santa Barbara in the Ducal Palace until the eighteenth century, when they were moved into the main part of the palace.
64 See Pagani, 1991.
65 For the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (B. 28), see Bellini, 249-51. Vasari, 5:419, associated this print with Marcantonio's gratitude to Bandinelli for helping release him from prison, where he had been sent as punishment for engraving the pornographic series I modi. He also claimed that the Medici pope Clement VII preferred the engraving to Bandinelli's original, saying that it corrected many errors.
66 Martyrdom of St. Laurence, 1582, B. 28, state 2: "Sapendo io la divotione di Casa Medici verso dal Beato Lorenzo/ E come possa aggradirla l'historia del suo martirio fatta gil dal Caval.r/Bandinelli e hora quasi consumata ho voluto Ritagliarlla per mantenerla lungamente eta VS Ill.mo dedicarla co la servitu di casa mia."
67 For the Volterra cathedral and the Medici connection to Francesco Capriani's work and the cathedral reconstruction see Marcucci, 150 ff.
68 Giacomo della Porta revised his opinion of Francesco ten years after the report to the Guastalla agent, at which time Cosimo Giustini recorded that "the architect Messer Giacomo delia Porta has told me that at present the best architects are [Francesco da] Volterra and [Ottaviano] Mascarino, and that he makes no distinction between the two of them, and that both could be put in the same box and taken out by chance, and that there are none better in Rome." Hibbard, 713 ff.
69 Originally in S. Trinita dei Monti, the church where Diana's husband was eventually buried.
70 For the legend of Francesco's death in 1588 see, most recently, Bellini. See Tafuri, from the unpublished notes of F. Noack in the Biblioteca Hertziana, Rome, which are correct about the year but not the month of Capriani's death. He is now thought to have died 15 September 1594; see Marcucci, 356.
71 For a compendium of previously known and many new documents about the family see the appendix of documents published in the review of Bellini's book by Pagani, 1992, 72-87 in conjunction with Bellini, and this essay. Many of Pagani's documents missing from the Bellini book appear with less specific citations in Marcucci's earlier publication.
72 The trope runs through the writing on Diana's life from Francesco Milizia, 1768. See Pagani, 1992. While some of Diana's signed but undated prints may have been made after this one, none is signed with a later date.
73 See Pagani, 1992. Diana's second husband was Giulio Pelosi.
74 See the correspondence of Diana's father, and the letters of Cardinal Ercole, above. For recent discussions of reproductive printmaking that take up aspects of this problem see Bury, 1985, 12-26; Borea, 87-122; and especially Bury, 1993, 4-19, in which Bury discusses the significance of the inventor for the viewer of the print, as well as questioning the intended relationship of the print to the work of the inventor.
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