RE.8 Opis as an Old Hag

RE.8 Boyvin?, Opis as an Old Hag

Engraving by René Boyvin?, 22.7 x 10.2 L (Vienna).

Fig.RE.8 (Vienna)

Robert-Dumesnil, VIII, 1850, 30, 24 and n. 1, as Boyvin after Rosso.  Le Blanc, 1854-1888/90, I, 507, 36, as Boyvin after Rosso.  Nagler, Mon., III, 1863, 853, no. 4 under 2089, as Jacob Bink, and as no. 21 of his set of Gods in Niches copied from Caraglio.  Destailleur, 1895, 277, no. 1148.  Linzeler, 1932, 170, as Boyvin after Rosso.  Levron, 1941, 74, 173, as shop of Boyvin after Rosso.

COLLECTIONS: Paris, Ed 3, in-folio.  Vienna, Vol. XLIX, 2, p.104, lower right.


Mariette, Abécédario, 1858-1859, as Bink after Rosso.

Bousquet, 1964, ill. p.258, as Boyvin after Rosso.

Carroll, 1978, 40, 42, Fig. 28, 48, n. 32, as a parody of Rosso’s Opis in a Niche engraved by Caraglio, as attributed to Boyvin and done after Rosso’s death probably from a design by Thiry.

K. Wilson-Chevalier, in Fontainebleau, 1985, 132-133, no. 78 (Paris), as Boyvin after Rosso or Thiry.

E. Hevers, in Zauber der Medusa, 1987, 188-189, no. III, 21, and Fig., as Boyvin after Rosso (Paris, as Inv. no. C 60413).


This engraving is a parody of Rosso’s Opis in a Niche engraved by Caraglio in 1526 in Rome (Fig.E.27).  In the second engraving, in reverse of the first, the goddess is shown very old and wearing a turban, the animals beneath her have been arranged somewhat differently, the donkey and fox have been eliminated, and a cock has been placed between the old Opis’s somewhat more widely separated legs.  Technically the print resembles Boyvin’s manner of engraving and if not by him would seem to be by someone in his shop or a close follower, indicating not only that the print was done in France but that it was done after Rosso’s death.  (But see above, Mariette’s and Nagler’s attribution to Bink.)  Such types of very old nude figures appear frequently in Rosso’s art, such as the old mother in the Twins of Catania in the Gallery of Francis I (Fig.P.22, V N a), as pointed out by Robert-Dumesnil with reference to the engraving of this scene by Boyvin (Fig.E.11).  He also recognized the similarity of the old Opis to the figure of an old nymph in an engraving attributed to Boyvin (Robert-Dumesnil, VIII, 1850, 35, 37).  Although Robert-Dumesnil attributed the design of that print to Rosso, which is repeated by Bousquet (1964, caption to ill. on p.258), Kusenberg (1931, 169) thought the design was probably by Thiry, which Levron (1941, 76, 202) accepted.  Robert-Dumesnil did state that Thiry imitated the figure of the old hag in the border of one of his Story of Jason designs, no. 10 of the series engraved by Boyvin (Robert-Dumesnil, VIII, 1850, 40, 10; Fig.RE.15,10).  Although the pose of this old woman, also depicted with animals, including a bear, is not precisely the same, it is exactly the kind of old, nude hag wearing a turban as the old figure of Opis.

The question to answer is whether or not Rosso designed this parody of his own earlier design.  In his Judith drawing in Los Angeles (Fig.D.84a) he did invent a very similar old woman as the maid.  But this figure has a vehemence and a sharply ragged quality of flesh not found in the print.  Furthermore, there is a subtlety of lighting and pictorial wit in the image engraved by Caraglio, as in the way the shadow of one animal is cast on the side of the niche, that is not found in the print attributed to Boyvin.  The cock in the later work makes a certain mordant point, but not an especially sophisticated one.  Therefore, it seems likely that the print with Opis as an old hag was designed by someone else based not only upon Caraglio’s print but also upon Rosso’s use of old figures in his French works.  It is probable that the designer of the engraving was Thiry, who more than anyone else is known to have created a style by imitating, and frequently in a parodic manner, Rosso’s art.