Son of quadratura ceiling master Agostino Mitelli, Giuseppe Maria (1634-1718) was one of the most renowned engravers of the 18th century, a master of the realtively new acquaforte (etching) process. A painter who trained with Guercino and Albani, among others, he accompanied his father to Spain, but his merry disposition led him to a far different destiny.
Back in Bologna Mitelli engraved beautiful copies of works from the leading painters of his day, but he soon became better known for his popular, mass-produced engravings, commercially very successful and showing a talent for cartooning far in advance of his day. These include political satires, tarot and playing cards, a 'Dream Alphabet', games and puzzles like the rebuses above, as well as illustrated proverbs and humorous scenes of everyday life accompanied by verse in Bolognese dialect.
Images by: giochidelloca.it, Mitelli/Rebus