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'The identification of the body of Saint Alexis...' from volume "82 prints engraved by F. Bartolozzi, etc, from the original drawings of Guercino, in the collection of His Majesty"

IH s. on plate b. r. "Giov. Vitalba Sculp. Londra."; inscr on plate b. l. "Guercino inv"; inscr in pencil along edge outside plate b. r. "76" CRE VITALBA, Giovanni; (Italian; 1738-1792) AFTER GUERCINO, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, (Italian; 1591-1666) PUB DALTON, Richard (1715-1791) This volume is part of William Hunter's bequest. The prints were commissioned by Richard Dalton, Librarian to George III, in the 1760s. They focus on the King's unrivalled collection of more than 800 drawings by Guercino, largely assembled by Dalton on visits made to Italy to enrich his royal patron's art holdings. The volume promoted the Royal Collection and served the market for prints after Guercino who was particularly popular among eighteenth-century English connoisseurs. While most were etched by Bartolozzi, hailed as Italy's best engraver, and brought to London by Dalton in 1763, five were the work of Vitalba, who travelled to England as Bartolozzi's assistant.
Saint Alexis chose a hermit's life and became known as the Man of God. Fleeing unwanted fame he returned to his wealthy Father's house but managed to conceal his identity from all, including his parents. It was only revealed upon his death by a note found in his hands which Pope Innocent I had read aloud.
Baroque art was intended to be didactic, a means of communicating biblical instruction to the illiterate. Saints, who epitomised holy living, were popular subject matter. There are 12 prints showing saints in this volume (Glaha 16453, 16456-7, 16462, 16467, 16476-7, 16483, 16486, 16509, 16517 & 16522).