FOSSEYEUX, Jean-Baptiste et. al. after MAESTRI, Michelangelo. The Twelve Hours of the Day and Night (a.k.a. ‘Raphael’s Hours’)
Paris, ca. 1805-6.
A complete set of twelve engravings, each framed in magnificent hand-made gilt mirrored silvered frames (65 x 51 cm., incl. frames). Engraved by Jean-Baptiste Fosseyeux and his collaborators, this set of prints is one of the first copies from Michelangelo Maestri’s prototypical gouaches of the same subject, which were produced in 1801. Allegedly representing figures from lost frescoes by Raphael, the personifications of the hours of day and night were in fact free adaptations from the second edition of Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia (1603), one of the most famous collections of allegorical images of the seventeenth century.
Because of their alleged provenance from a Raphaelesque archetype, these prints were highly appreciated throughout the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Their obscure origins gave ground to all sort of speculations regarding their original location, and about the meaning behind the astrological attributes therein. An article by Giangiacomo Gandolfi suggests that the great neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova might have been the author of the design and commissioned this series to his pupil Michelangelo Maestri.
Bibliography: Gandolfi, G. The Strange Case of Raphael’s Planetary Hours: Revealing a Neoclassical Forgery in Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena (2015).