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Making a Good Impression: Diana Mantuana's Printmaking Career*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Evelyn Lincoln*
Affiliation:
Brown University

Extract

In 1576, the year after she married the aspiring architect Francesco da Volterra and moved to Rome, a Mantuan engraver named Diana (known in the twentieth century as Diana Scultori) produced a large, single-sheet engraving of an Ionic volute, richly decorated with a chain of stylized acanthus leaves and flowers, and a slightly abbreviated version of the egg-and-dart and bead-and-reel moldings that adorned the capital (fig. 1). In its size, its attention to decorative detail, and its pictorial character, Diana's print differed quite a bit from the model-bookish profiles of the classical orders previously in circulation (fig. 2). Most unusual, though, was the signature of a woman under several lines of Latin text engraved beneath the image, explicitly dedicating it to students of architecture: “This volute from an ancient capital of a Numidian stone column of the composite order, in St. Peter's in the Vatican, was drawn by Francesco da Volterra and Baptista di Petra Santa for the common use of students of this art. Diana Mantuana, wife of the same Francesco, engraved [it] in Rome. 1576.”

Type
Studies
Copyright
Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 1997

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Footnotes

*

The subject of this essay is derived from a chapter of my dissertation, written in 1994 at the University of California, Berkeley. Comments and suggestions on earlier versions from Michael Baxandall, Elizabeth Cohen, Dian Kriz, Loren Partridge, Rose Marie San Juan, Gretchen Schultz, Randy Starn, and the Wesleyan Early Modern Studies Group were instrumental in shaping this version. ASMn refers to the Archivio di Stato di Mantova; ASR to the Archivio di Stato di Roma; ASV to the Archivio Segreto Vaticano.

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