'Spazzacamino' (Chimney Sweep)

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'Spazzacamino' (Chimney Sweep) about 1590
This is the only surviving example of a series of seventy-five drawings depicting Bolognese street-traders that Annibale made around 1590. It is believed that he had always intended that the series would be turned into prints, but this did not happen until 1646 when Simon Guillain etched and published them under the title ‘Arti di Bologna’. Annibale was the first artist to pay lowly working people serious artistic attention, and was fascinated by the everyday world around him. Here, the humble chimney sweep is not mocked or ridiculed, but caught in a moment of distraction as he markets his trade. His bad posture reflects the ravages of his profession upon his body, and his rough clothing underlines the discomfort of his daily existence.

Glossary Open


A form of printmaking in which a metal plate is covered with a substance called a 'ground', usually wax, into which an image is drawn with a needle. Acid is applied, eroding the areas of the plate exposed but not the areas covered by wax. The action of the acid creates lines in the metal plate that hold the ink from which a print is made when the plate is pressed against paper under pressure.



  • Acc. No. D 4984
  • Medium Pen, brown ink and wash, heightened with white, on paper
  • Size 27.60 x 16.70 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1972