Pieter Tanje was a Dutch reproductive engraver active during the 18th century, well known for his portraits and his reproductive engravings after works in the Painting Gallery in Dresden. In this print after an unidentified painting by Parmigianino, Tanje employed etching as his reproductive medium. Engraving, in which metal is physically displaced from a plate with a sharp tool called a burin, requires physical strength -- whereas etching entails drawing in a forgiving waxy ground. Despite the shift in technique, Tanje’s style maintains its traditional link to reproductive engraving in its angularly hatched, broad areas of shadow. However, etching’s potential for tremulous line here lends the figures and flowers, especially, a softened quality in keeping with tastes favoring the painterly style of Antoine Watteau and other French masters working in the early eighteenth century. Tanje reproduced Parmigianino’s feminine, elongated body type, especially in Venus’s oval face and the bodies of the putti.
Written by Susan Anderson, Ph.D., interim Mellon Coordinator of College Programs, 2009