Conte Carlo Lasinio after Benozzo Gozzoli – The Rod of Aaron, and the Brazen Serpent
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Gouache and watercolour with gold lettering over an etched and engraved surface on thick heavy paper, with a wide margin. Laid onto acid-free mount-board. Published: “Pitture a Fresco del Campo Santo di Pisa…”, Florence 1812, Plate 21. Original Language Title (Italian/French): LA VERGA D’ ARONNE, E IL SERPENTE DI BRONZO / LA VERGE D’ AARON, ET LE SERPENT D’ AIRAIN
Sheet: 20 3/8 x 33 3/4 in. (54.3 x 85.7 cm.)
Platemark: 20 3/16 x 32 11/16 in. (51.3 x 83.1 cm.)
Mountboard: 26 5/8 x 40 in. (67.6 x 101.6 cm.)
Conte Carlo Lasinio (1759-1838) after Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497)
The book from which this engraving was published is important for bringing into focus the mutual interests of the early Pre-Raphaelite circle, and especially DGR, Millais, and Hunt. It contains Carlo Lasinio’s engravings from fifteenth-century paintings attributed to Giotto, Memmi, Gozzoli, and other early Italian masters. The spare style and linear simplicity appealed to DGR and his friends as marks of a pictorial attitude wholly unlike the reigning academic canons, in particular what they called the slosh they saw promoted by Sir Joshua Reynolds..
In his Memoir of his brother’s life, William Michael Rossetti quotes Holman Hunt as follows: “The companionship of Rossetti and myself [in 1848] soon brought about a meeting with Millais, at whose house one night we found a book of engravings of the frescoes in the Campo Santo at Pisa.”. This book proved the catalyst for the founding of The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. As WMR went on to point out, the engravings were important to the three young men for giving “some idea of the motives, feeling, and treatment, of the paintings of Gozzoli, and of those ascribed to Orcagna and other medieval masters. It seems that Rossetti was not quite prepared beforehand to believe in these very olden painters, and Brown specially cautioned him not to undervalue them. I well recollect the enthusiasm with which, subsequently to seeing the engravings, Dante spoke to me on the subject”.
DGR himself later acquired a copy of the book in the 1828 third printing of the first edition. It had been quite a successful work, in fact. Lasinio brought out a prospectus for its publication in 1806 and an initial printing in 1812. Another printing appeared in 1822, and a second edition appeared in 1832-1833 “disegnate ed incise da Giuseppe Rossi e dal G. Paolo Lasinio” (Lasinio’s son). It is not clear whether DGR knew the second edition’s (re-engraved) plates.