Andrea Andreani, an Italian artist and a business-minded publisher in Mantua, reissued this print originally cut in wood by Giuseppe Rossigliani, also known as Giuseppe Niccola Vicentino. Andreani left the credit to the original design inventor, Raphael, on the tablet in the lower-left corner (“Raph UR” stands for Raphael Urbino) but replaced Vicentino’s name with his own monogram.
Interpreting Italian drawings in graphic media became common in sixteenth-century Italy. Printmakers profitably reproduced designs of the great masters, sometimes without their consent, spreading their fame and meeting the growing demands of contemporary collectors.
There are many Renaissance renderings of the mythological story of Hercules, the famous hero of antiquity. The subject resonated with the revived classical notions of personal strength and wisdom brought to bear on overcoming life’s obstacles. This composition depicts the first of Hercules’s twelve labors, slaying a monstrous lion in front of its cave near Nemea. Andreani used a multiblock, three-color technique to create the image. The black contour lines and the linear gray shading of the second block are complemented by the light brown of the last planar block, giving the effect of a monochrome tonal drawing.
forests; mythology; animals; narrative; fighting; signatures
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