Giovanni Beltrami


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(b Cremona, 26 Oct 1770; d Cremona, 1854). Italian gem-engraver and medallist. His work, executed with meticulous attention to detail, consists primarily of cameo reproductions of paintings on large size stones. His masterpiece is considered to be the Tent of Darius (1828; Cremona, Mus. Civ.), carved in white Brazilian topaz and based on the painting by Charles Le Brun (Versailles, Château). The former work was commissioned by Bartolomeo Turina of Cremona, as were Angelica and Medoro, Wealth Conquered by Cupid, the head of Niobe and Rinaldo and Armida (all Cremona, Mus. Civ.). Beltrami also received sizeable commissions from the Bonaparte family; these include portraits of Napoleon and Josephine and the Myth of Psyche, portrayed on 16 white cornelians (untraced) supplied to him for that purpose by the Empress Josephine. Other commissions were from the Austrian imperial family, among them an onyx cameo of a wreathed bust of Francis I (Vienna, Schatzkam.). Many works were also executed on behalf of Bartolomeo Soresina Vidoni and Conte Giovanni Battista Sommariva, for whom Beltrami produced numerous gem-engravings of the paintings in Sommariva's collection in Paris and at Tremezzo on Lake Como. Of these the following are extant: the agate Communion of Attala (priv. col.), after a painting by Anne-Louis Girodet (1767-1824; Paris, Louvre), the rock-crystal engraving of The Kiss from a painting by Francesco Hayez (1791-1882; untraced) and an engraving of Curtius (London, BM). Beltrami also carried out at least 90 medallions of pewter and copper (Cremona, Mus. Civ.), comprising a series of portraits of famous personalities. His work is signed, and many pieces carry the date of execution and a reference to the iconographic source.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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