Pietro Testa

An Allegory of Painting

c. 1638
Bartsch 29; Bellini 15; Cropper 37, ii/iii (before erasure of Rossi and other inscriptions) Coincident with Testa's theoretical treatise "Trattato della pittura ideale" (late 1630), one of the overriding themes of this etching is the importance of the study of nature. The figure of Painting stands at centre drawing on a tablet next to Fertile Nature. At front, an infant draws on a larger tablet suggesting the proper way to begin art studies; a more mature artist sits on the ground to the left with a compass and rule at his feet, following Testa's belief that the painter must master the principles of architecture. At lower left, a figure with a painting palette by his side demonstrates the merging of "colore" and "disegno". Fortune sits to the right holding her horn and at lower right Time lies bound and fallen, unable to brandish his scythe and hourglass. In the centre background stand the three Graces under a palm tree, who will emerge clearly to the artist, according to "Trattato," as his study of nature progresses.
An Allegory of Painting
c. 1638
etching on ivory laid paper
30.1 x 34.9 cm; plate: 28.2 x 32.5 cm
Credit line
Gift of Philip R.L. Somerville, Toronto, 2010
Accession number