Diana Mantovano

By: Leese Baber


Artworks topics: Birth And Death / Christianity / Gods / Religion Temples / Women


Diana Scultori (Mantua, before 1542-1612, Rome) The Descent from the Cross (B. 7ii/ii, Massari 143, Albricci 36 ii/ii), engraving after her father.

The very disciplined and somewhat static engraving technique is characteristic of her early works. Despite a certain naivete of draftsmanship, the scene is imbued with a strong dramatic effect and is devoid of any rhetoric. The figures gathered under the cross show subtle differences in the tenderness and compassion radiating from their gestures and facial expressions. There are fine variations in the play of hands that gently support the limp body of the dead Christ and hold the shroud in which he is taken down from the cross. A brilliant and sharp early impression with even margins around plate mark. Before the change of the address and before the text in the lower white margin. Minimal traces of handling, an old numbering in brown ink in the lower right-hand corner, original binding holes in the upper white margin, otherwise in perfect condition.

Diana Scultori (Mantua, before 1542-1612, Rome), Menelaus holding the Body of Patroclus, engraving after Giulio Romano, c. 1570

This work is looked upon as one of Diana's most appealing works due to the steadiness and the fineness of the engraved line. The center of the composition is taken up by the youthful body of Patroclus being delivered from the fury of the Trojans, and the almost horizontal line of this figure being very clear, breaks the disordered movements of the fighters.

Diana Scultori (Mantua, before 1542-1612, Rome) The Resurrection (B. 10, Albricci 35), engraving after Giulio Romano. This is a reverse copy of her father's engraving

Soldiers by Christ's tomb shield their eyes in terror and surprise as Jesus leaps forth in a burst of light.

Artist Background: Born around the year 1547 in Mantua, Diana Scultori also known as Diana Mantovano, or Diana Ghisi, became one of the few well known women Italian engravers during the Renaissance. She came from a family of artists. Giovanni Battista Scultori (her father), also known as Giovanni Battista Mantovano or Mantuano, was a sculptor and engraver. She had three siblings, two sisters and one brother. It was only Diana and her brother, Adamo Scultori who took after their father artistically and pursued a career. Not only did her father train her in engraving but an artist who was her inspiration also did, Guilio Romano.

***WHY SO MANY NAMES? She was known to have signed various signatures at different points in her lifetime. In most of her works she is referred to by the name of Diana Mantuana, or Diana Mantovana. A famous male artist mentioned that she was related to a guy with a last name "Ghisi", so that's where "Diana Ghisi" came about. It has not been recorded in any of her works that she went by, or signed the name Scultori.

Her first engravings date back around to 1560, her age being 13 or 14. She was one of the few women artists that Vasari mentioned in the 1568 edition of his Lives.

She was REALLY inspired by Guilio Romano works, so Diana faithfully used other artists' work as her foundation for her prints. Although she used them as her foundation, her works stood out because of the measure of originality: filling in the backgrounds and altering images.

In 1575 when she produced her first dated print she received a ten-year Papal Privilege by Pope Gregory XII so that she could market her works under he own name. (*An honor and rare achievement for a woman in the 16th century*) She not only sold her work for her own benefit but also helped her husband gain work for his architectural commissions.

She was well known for being concerned with maintaining a good reputation. She was regarded as a keen business woman, and was said to be very “charming” and “well-bred”. Caring for her family was also one of her top priorities.

What Made Diana Mantovano Important During The Renaissance: Her career was a very important part of development within the history of printmaking. Her significance in art during the Renaissance was opening the doors for other women. Diana Mantovano was noted as one of the first women artists who was actually ALLOWED to sell and market her work under her OWN NAME. It has been recorded that Diana produced 62 prints during her lifetime. Her last dated print, from 1588, was The Entombment after Paris Nogari. The Renaissance was a time period where opportunities for women were coming to life, slowly but surely!

She died in Rome on April 5, 1612.


Obtained Images from ArtStor.org Artstor;

Diana Scultori [Art Library Database]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2017, from http://library.artstor.org/library/#3|search|1|diana20scultori|Multiple20Collection20Search|||type3D3126kw3Ddiana20scultori26id3Dall26name3DAll20Collections26origKW3D

Created By
Leese Baber

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