(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Massacre of the Innocents

Pen and brown ink, 260 x 400 mm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

Most of Raphael's figure studies from the years of 1504-08 cannot be connected to any known commission. The Massacre of the Innocents was one of the most celebrated and widely reproduced engravings of the sixteenth century, which established the decade long, fruitful collaboration of Raphael and the Bolognese engraver Marcantonio Raimondi.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century there was no significant printmaking activity in Rome thus it was an ideal place for Raphael to launch a printmaking and publishing enterprise. Beyond the immediate profit to be gained from selling prints, the painter must also have been motivated by the advantages lying in the reproduction and distribution of his own compositions. Since Raphael was inexperienced in both printmaking and publishing, he was in need of suitable partners. He appointed one of his apprentices, Baviero de' Carocci (active c. 1515-1527) to supervise the printing and sale of prints after his designs.

Marcantonio Raimondi made six engravings for Raphael. These were the products of an operation for which Raphael provided the designs, Raimodi the engraving skills, and Baviera the organization of the printing and sale. Baviera soon included other engravers in the business, employing among other Agostino Veneziano (c. 1490-1536) and Marco Dente (c. 1486-1527),

The Massacre of the Innocents is probably the earliest of the six engravings in which Raphael's name appears.

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