About This Artwork

Annibale Carracci
Italian, 1560-1609

Drunken Silenus (the "Tazza Farnese"), c. 1597

Engraving on ivory laid paper
320 mm (image in diameter); 427 x 320 mm (sheet)

The Regenstein Collection, 1989.172

Contemporary accounts described the slightly curved printing plate (Capodimonte Museum, Naples) for this Carracci engraving as an artwork and a vessel for drinking or serving wine: “More beautiful . . . is Silenos engraved on a silver salver for Cardinal Farnese.” A Roman gem from Farnese’s extensive collection likely supplied the image, while the plate’s shape mimicked ancient kylixes, such as this one (1889.118), which was incised with a delicate geometrical design while the clay was still wet. Greek black-glazed wares made of terracotta resembled more expensive metal counterparts, which might have been stamped and incised much like Carracci’s silver salver.

Interpretive Resources

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