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JACQUES I ANDROUET DU CERCEAU

Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau’s etchings are most significant because of the role they had in the dissemination of Rosso’s inventions in France and beyond. A few, however, also preserve important lost details of the frescoes and stuccoes in the Gallery of Francis I at Fontainebleau.

He was born in Paris in 1510 and began etching in France after a stay in Italy sometime between 1530 and 1533. His earliest prints, of a variety of decorative designs, were published in Orléans. By 1559 he was active in Paris. He is most famous for his volumes of architectural illustrations, beginning around 1550, especially Les plus excellents bastiments de France in two volumes, 1576-1579, and the Livre des édifices antiques romaines of 1584. He died in 1584/86.

His earliest etchings after Rosso may be the reversed copies of Caraglio’s six Labors and Adventures of Hercules (E.52, 1-6) and his copy of Caraglio’s Challenge of the Pierides (E.53), as well as his copies of Bink’s copies of Caraglio’s twenty Gods in Niches (E.54, 1-20). All but three of the other catalogued prints are from the three volumes of Du Cerceau’s cartouches: the Grands Cartouches de Fontainebleau, First Set of ten plates (E.55, 1-3), the Grands Cartouches de Fontainebleau, Second Set of ten plates (E.56, 1-8), and the Petits Cartouches de Fontainebleau of thirty-three plates (E.57, 1-11). All of these etchings were derived from other prints, especially from Fantuzzi’s etchings of the highly original frames in the Gallery of Francis I and other rooms in the château at Fontainebleau, or from the same drawings that the original printmaker used. None are precise copies, showing instead the intention to create lively decorative variations. Salamanders appear in some of Du Cerceau’s etchings, but not Francis I’s “F.” All of Du Cerceau’s cartouches have blank centers where a scene or image could be shown and where in the case of Fantuzzi’s prints landscapes appear. Some of Du Cerceau’s prints were freely copied by Battista Angolo del Moro, who added a scene or sculpted head in the center. When printed Moro’s copies were reversed.

Fantuzzi’s etched copies after Rosso’s drawings are often bold and vigorous, even rough and ugly, as I’ve heard expressed. Du Cerceau’s etchings after Fantuzzi’s etchings are more delicate.