Marcantonio Raimondi Baccio Bandinelli
The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence
Marcantonio Raimondi, Italian, The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, ca 1525, Engraving, trimmed to platemark; 43.2 x 58.1 cm (17 x 22 7/8 inches) (plate), Museum Works of Art Fund 59.085
Marcantonio Raimondi, the most prolific printmaker of the Italian High Renaissance, engraved this scene of the gruesome martyrdom of St. Lawrence after a design by Baccio Bandinelli. Although the print tells a story, it is also a virtuoso display of the classical nude body and a study in symmetry. Within an impressive, stage-like marketplace, Bandinelli centered the saint’s heroic nude body as he is grilled alive. The pose recalls that of Michelangelo Buonarrotti’s Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling (1508–1512) in Rome. St. Lawrence’s executioners, also nude, surround him, while the villainous Roman Emperor Valerian (reigned 253–260) surveys the scene from the middle ground. One of Marcantonio’s contributions as an engraver was his elaborate system of crosshatching, a technique that introduced intermediate gray tones to the formerly black-and-white medium.