Giuseppe Maria Mitelli

Bologna's Baroque Cartoonist

Roma, Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica

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.

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