Germany ? — 1602 Venice
Marriage Feast at Cana
black chalk underdrawing, pen & brown ink, brush & wash, white heightening on paper toned blue which has faded to green. laid down but where verso studies of putti are revealed. 18 x 271/8" (457 x 689mm). the section about Christ's head is a second additional piece of paper presumably containing the artist's change of mind.
inscribed extensively on verso including 33-807m 180.314, Drawings portfolio 3
Not much is known of the artist Martin Preyss. His extant oeuvre, to my knowledge, consists of two engravings, both after paintings by Vicentino (Andrea Michele, Vicenza 1539?-1617? Venice). The present drawing is preparatory for one of these, the one replicating Vicentino's painting in the Church of San Trovaso, Venice.1 We know that Preyss obtained the privelegio to make the copperplate on 14 May, 1594.2 The print today is quite rare. The Metropolitan Museum recently acquired one; they already had another but in poor condition.3 The Met's better print measures 31 3/16 x 25". If we consider that the architecture is not included in the drawing, just the figures are worked out, then the figural composition of the drawing is a bit larger. The print is etched from 2 plates on 2 pieces of paper and indeed 1/2 is the section with the figures about the table, the other is the architecture and sky. In Vicentino's painting, both the top and bottom have lost inches. But it is difficult to know how much of the painting is lost as other paintings from San Trovaso are similar in shape. Perhaps the architectural background was never as extensive as Preyss saw fit to make it.
The engraving and Vicentino's painting are in the same orientation while the present drawing depicts the composition in reverse, indicating that it cannot be a copy. Nor is there any lack of spatial understanding of figures nor setting which are the hallmarks of a copy. Instead, this unusual and possibly unique drawing has all the slanted swagger of Venetian art of the period, but with Germanic figure types, reflecting the esthetic of the draftsman's origins. It seems reasonable to date the drawing ca. 1594.
The other known print by Preyss is after Vicentino's Arrival of Henry III at Venice of around 1593, in the Doges Palace in the Sala delle Quatro Porte. Here again, the print is in the same orientation as the painting.
Another print was made after this painting, in 1690, by Noel Robert Cochin.
Archivio di Stato Venezia, ST, reg 64, fol. 45v, (66v. n.n): "sia concesso al fedel Andrea Vicentino Pittore per el dessegno delle Nozze in Canna Galilei stampato in rame."
inv.#'s 59.570.352 and 2002.50.