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Piero Marussig, four etchings

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PIERO MARUSSIG (Trieste 1879 - Pavia 1937) FOUR ETCHINGS
a) SELF-PORTRAIT, etching aquatint and roulette, to the platemark 148 x 111 mm, the entire sheet measuring 354 x 253 mm. b) PORTRAIT OF BEARDED MAN IN PROFILE TOWARDS THE RIGHT, etching, to the platemark 155 x 120 mm, the entire sheet measuring 503 x 352 mm. c) FEMALE FIGURE, HALF BUST TO THE LEFT, THE HEAD BENDED ON HER RIGHT HEAD, etching, to the platemark 197 x 140 mm, the entire sheet measuring 500 x 350 mm. d) BUST IN PROFILE TO THE LEFT, etching and aquatint, to the platemark 158 x 120 mm, the entire sheet measuring 503 x 355 mm. Fine, even impressions in black ink on wove paper, as printed by Fusetti c. 1938 (see below). All with wide margins, minor defects at margins, a white spot at the bottom of c, generally in good condition.
The work of Piero Marussig as an etcher has been very little investigated. Nothing similar to a catalogue raisonné of his etchings exists, also if often examples of his prints have been published in catalogues devoted to the artist. The Civic collection of prints Achille Bertarelli, in Milan, preserves 29 different etchings by Marussig, 8 of them in duplicate. Possibly the 29 prints are not the complete 'corpus' of the artist's etchings, but certainly they are the largest part of it. Most of the prints in the Bertarelli are portraits (24, including 3 self-portraits), but there are also two landscapes, one ex libris, a small etching of a sleeping dog and a satirical etching depicting a miser in the face of Death. Marussig worked with etching, aquatint, drypoint and in a few cases used also the roulette to give tone to his prints. It is interesting to note the provenance of the prints in the Bertarelli, which entered the collection through two purchases from the artist's widow. Through the first purchase (September 1938; no. 1583) the Bertarelli collection acquired, from the widow and from the printer Fusetti, 29 etchings. They all are printed on the same wove paper with black or sepia ink and certainly constitute an edition issued by the printer Fusetti, just after the death of Marussig. Through the second purchase (November 1945; no. 1847) 9 etchings have been purchased from Signora Marussig. I have checked 8 of them, and they all are earlier impressions, often signed in pen or pencil.

The son of a wealthy businessman and collector, Piero Marussig lived in Vienna and Monaco, between 1899 and 1901, where he approached the Viennese Secession and became familiar with the Central European expressionistic tendencies. He then lived in Rome for two years (1903-5) and spent a year in Paris (1905), where he studied Post-Impressionism and Fauvism. On his return to Italy in 1906 he lived in Trieste and, until about 1919, painted in a loosely expressionistic style. About 1920 he decided to move to Milan where he met Carra, Sironi and Funi. In Milan Marussig was among the founders of the group 'Novecento', along with painters Anselmo Bucci, Leonardo Dudreville, Achille Funi, Emilio Malerba, Mario Sironi and Ubaldo Oppi. His paintings of this period reflect the tendency of the group to a recovery of the Renaissance painting tradition.
The work of Piero Marussig as an etcher has been very little investigated. Nothing similar to a 'catalogue raisonné' of his etchings exists, but some relevant considerations have been expressed by Raffaele De Grada, in 1970. Praising the artist's passion for etching and his skills, De Grada has noted how, in his etchings, Marussig avoids the decorative influences of 'Art Noveau', drawing on, rather, by German printmakers as Menzel and Slevogt. De Grada especially praised Marussig's etched portraits and remarked how they recall the classic tradition, after the mawkishness of the portraiture in the late nineteenth century. See: Raffaele de Grada 'Piero Marussig', in 'Seconda Biennale internationale della grafica', catalogue of the exhibition, Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 1970; pp. 69-70.

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