BRITTO, Giovanni
(active 1530-1550 in Venice)

Biography

Woodcutter of German origin (originally Johannes Breit), active in Italy. His first work in Venice was the illustration of Petrarca spirituale by Girolamo Malipiero, published by Francesco Marcolini in 1536. In 1543 the inscription In Vinegia per Giovanni Britto Intagliatore... appears in the colophon of La congiuratione de Gheldresi contro la citta Danversa by Joannes Servilius (Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale), an unillustrated book printed by Marcolini, but there is no documentary evidence that Britto designed the fount, and his relationship with Marcolini is unclear.

Among his works are several woodcuts derived from works by Titian, for example the Adoration of the Shepherds, two portraits of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (inspired by a model drawn by Titian) and a Self-portrait of Titian signed In Venetia per Gioanni Britto Intagliatore datable to 1550 on account of Pietro Aretino's laudatory sonnet addressed 'to the German engraver'. A portrait of Süleyman I has been attributed to Britto as well as a group of woodcuts after Titian previously thought to be the work of Niccolň Boldrini: the Landscape with a Milkmaid, St Jerome in the Wilderness and The Stigmatization of St Francis.

In 1550 Britto signed the Descrittione di Bologna Maritima..., a wood-engraved plan of the siege of Boulogne-sur-Mer by Henry II, King of France, in 1549 (reproduced in, for example, the Lafréry Atlas).

Stylistically Britto's work is marked by two phases. The first is still close in style to the German tradition, while the next, more individual, is clearly inspired by the technique of copper-engraving. The monogram ?, once considered the seal of Boldrini, is now generally accepted as belonging to Britto.