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Lodovico Mattioli, The Carriage of Time

Etching,  38.5  x 27.3 cm, Baillieu Library Collection, The University of Melbourne, Gift of Dr. Orde Poynton, 1959, Accession No. : 1959.3343.000.000.
The subject of this print is The Carriage of Time, which is a theme from the poetry of Petrarch (1304-1374). Petrarch’s Triumphs, a cycle of poems in the Tuscan vernacular which he began in around 1340, consist of the Triumph of Love, of Chastity, of Death, of Fame, of Time and of Eternity. As Erwin Panofsky notes in his Studies in Iconology, Death and Time share an iconography derived from that of Saturn (1939, p. 77). Panofsky describes the figure of Father Time and Lodovico Mattiolo’s figure has many of the same features: the figure is winged and nude and carries a scythe. The motif of the hourglass is also present on the front of the carriage.


Lodovico Mattioli (1662-1747) was a painter and printmaker active in Bologna, who was a pupil and close friend of the painter Giuseppe Maria Crespi. He even posed as the penitent for Crespi’s Dresden Confession (Merriman, 1980, pp. 33, 115). The two worked so closely that Crespi’s son Luigi even claimed that his father did engravings and allowed Mattioli to sign them (Lolli, 1984, p. 184). Mattioli worked as a drawing, engraving and calligraphy master at the Orphanage of S. Bartolomeo di Reno in Bologna. He was a member of the Accademia Clementina, an important artists’ academy in Bologna,  from its foundation in 1710 (Lolli, 1984, p. 184). After a prolific career as an engraver, he died in Bologna in 1747,  aged 85  (Lolli, 1984, p. 185).


From 16 to 25 February 1700, a series of festivities was held at the ducal palace in Modena to celebrate the baptism of  Prince Francesco d’Este (later Duke Francesco III  of Modena and Reggio).  A contemporary published letter describes these performances at some length (Massar, 1994, p. 30). This etching  by Lodovico Mattioli  records one of the festival carriages, The Carriage of Time.  This print was done for the booklet which recorded the festivities, La Gloria e’l Tempo (Anon., 1700, facing p. 19). Mattioli also etched the stage machinery representing Envy for this booklet, while Francesco Maria Francia etched the Carriage of Glory and the Carriage of Eternity.


Two contemporary works on similar themes were Handel’s first oratorio Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno (The Triumph of Time and of Disillusion, HWV 46a, 1707, Parker, 2003, pp. 403-13) and Gaetano Zumbo’s sculpture in wax The Triumph of Time (before 1695,  Wolkenhauer, 2001, p. 72-3) in the La Specola zoological museum in Florence.


The handwritten inscription, which appears contemporary with the print, reads “1700 La Machina per la Nascita del Ser[enissim]o Principe” (The Carriage for the Birth of the Serene Prince).

Conservation treatment of this print was carried out in 2011. See the treatment page for details and before and after treatment photographs.
Anon., 1700
Anon., La gloria e’l tempo festeggianti la nascita del Serenissimo Principe di Modana: armeggiamento a cavallo fatto alla presenza delle Serme. Altezze di Parma, & c. nel teatro eretto innanzi al ducal palazzo nel mese di febbrajo l’anno 1700,  Modena: Bartolomeo Soliani, 1700.


Bagni, 1985
Bagni, P, Il Guercino e il suo falsario, Bologna: Nuova Alfa, 1985, p. 61 & cat.

Bartsch, 1920
Bartsch, A von, Le  peintre graveur, Würzburg: Verlagsdruckerei Würzburg, 1920, vol 19, pp. 189-215.

Bartsch, 1978-
Bartsch, A von, The illustrated Bartsch, Walter L. Strauss (ed.), New York : Abaris Books, 1978- , vol. 43, p. 176.

Lolli, 1984
Lolli, M, ‘Le acqueforti di Lodovico Mattioli (1662-1747)’, Il Carrobbio,  10,  1984, p. 186.Merriman, 1980
Merriman, M P, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Milan: Rizzoli, 1980.

Panofsky, 1939
Panofsky, E, Studies in iconology : humanistic themes in the art of the Renaissance, New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Wolkenhauer, 2001
Wolkenhauer, A, ‘”Grausenhaft wahr ist diese wächserne Geschichte” : die Wachsfiguren von Don Gaetano Zumbo zwischen Kunst und medizinischer Anatomie’, in G Dürbeck et al. (eds), Wahrnehmung der Natur, Natur der Wahrnehmung : Studien zur Geschichte visueller Kultur um 1800, Dresden : Verlag der Kunst, 2001, pp. 71-85.

Tim Ould

Tim Ould is a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Melbourne, and completed this entry in July 2010 for a developmental version of the website.

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