The Assumption of Mary, before 1609
Republished by Jo. Jacob de Rubeis no later than 1691
Engraving. 285 x 207 mm
Inventory number: E1826
After the death of Titian (c. 1488-1576), Federico Zuccaro was perhaps the best known artist in Europe, though he is almost forgotten today. He became notorious not only for his artistic ability but also because he repeatedly took artistic revenge on his enemies by painting easily recognisable caricatures. After severe criticism of one of these, the Pope exiled Zuccaro from Rome in 1583, though he was later recalled.
The Church had great influence on art in Rome in general. And when Zuccaro founded the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1593, this was also under papal charter. One of the great challenges of Zuccaro’s time was the fact that the large numbers of quite young artists coming to Rome were left without any possibility of help or guidance. They were often either children or teenagers. And it was also unsatisfactory in general for the artists to feel they were a minority group in the local guilds. Zuccaro wanted to raise the standing of painters and sculptors in relation to that of artisans. It was with this object in view that he founded the Accademia di San Luca and ensured that teaching in artistic theory accompanied the practical instruction. It was incidentally this same academy of fine art to which Thorvaldsen was admitted and in which he was appointed professor in 1808.
The story of the Assumption is found in the Biblical Apocrypha. It tells how the bodily Assumption of Mary took place on the third day after her death. As the Apostles were sitting by Mary’s tomb, Christ revealed Himself accompanied by the Archangel Michael. They had with them the soul of Mary, which again took up residence in her body. And both her body and spirit were taken up into Heaven. The Assumption of Mary is part of Catholic doctrine.