ZENOI Domenico – Vera effiggie dell’illusto.F. Giouanni de Valletta – MALTA – LA VALLETTE Grandmaster

ZENOI Domenico – RARE portrait of LA VALLETTE – 1565 – MALTA – GRANDMASTER


ZENOI Domenico – RARE portrait of LA VALLETTE – 1565 – MALTA – GRANDMASTER


A highly decorative portrait of Grand Master Jean De Valette which has this legend: Vera effiggie dell’jllusto.F. Giouanni de Valletta, Gran Maestro della Relligione Ieroosola. Inulittisso. Co[n]tro / à Turchi, nel tempo, ch’Assediorno Malta, l’anno 1565.

At the bottom right corner of the portrait there is Zenoi’s signature: Dňo Zenoi, which indicates Zenoi being the engraver.

The portrait, appeared in Fra Paolo del Rosso’s edition of the Statuti della Religione de Cavalieri Gierosolimitani published in Florence in 1567 by the Giunti printing establishment. It also appeared in the second edition of Del Rosso’s Statutes published in Floence in 1570 by Filippo Giunti e Fratelli.

Copper engraving measuring 200 x 145 mm approx. paper has slight de toning in a very small area and only a part of the watermark on the side is visible – yet chain lines are sharp and visible throughout.

In immaculate condition – for sale – kindly make an offer – the last auction in May 2024 in BELRIN, a same engraving sold for Euro 7500 ex commission.

Jean de la Valette (1494-1568), who came from a noble family in southern France, rose through various offices to become the head of the Order of Malta – as it was called after its relocation to Malta – and served as its 49th Grand Master from 1557 until his death. On March 28, 1566, he also laid the foundation stone for the future capital of the Mediterranean island, which was named Valletta in his honor after its completion in 1571. This portrait shows the Grand Master in profile to the right in armor with the characteristic symbol of his order, the Maltese cross, on his chest, framed in an artistically crafted, Mannerist decorative frame. This very rare sheet is the work of the painter and engraver Domenico Zenoi, about whose biography only sparse details are known. Active in Venice around 1560-80, he founded and successfully ran a copperplate engraving publishing house during this period. The present portrait of de la Valette is probably a second, mirror-image and varied version of an older portrait that Zenoi created as part of the series Imagines quorundam principum et illustrium virorum published in 1567 (Nagler 2). The sheet is not in the collections of the British Museum, London, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, or the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.




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