Recently we sold a print rarely seen in collections, the “Christ and his disciples on the way to Emmaus”, engraved by Domenico Vito, monaco Vallombrosano (fl. 1574-1578). This composition is a mirrored smaller copy from another engraving made by Philips Galle (1537-1612) in 1571, likely after a painting by Pieter Bruegel the elder (1526/30-1569) [New Hollstein 173]. The scene represents a passage from the Worship of Luke (24:13-27), where Christ appears to his disciples and leads them to Emmaus. The underneath text has been cut out but from Piero Zani (Enciclopedia metodica, 1822, p. 119) we acknowledge that the whole inscription reads: “P. Breughel inuentor. Dominus Vitus ordinis Vallisumbrosae Monacus excude. Romae ann. [D. 1576. / Christus peregrini dignaris sumere formam / Ut firma solides pectora nostra fide.]”. In his print Don Vito added the sun and the moon on the top left.
Don Vito is listed among the minor artists active in the Medicean court during the 16th century. In particular, he worked beside Scipione Ammirato (1531-1600) at the genealogical trees of the Neapolitan noble families, “Famiglia Baglioni” and “Famiglia Anselmi” between 1580 and 1582. His name appears also on plates dedicated to royal genealogies, the “Reges Angliae” from 1584 and that of the “Kings of Aegypt” from 1584, the tree of the “Kings of France – the Merolei, Carolingi and Ciappetti” from 1586, dedicated to Henry II of France, the “Reges Macedonium” signed “D. Vitus 1586” and the tree of the Bavarian and Palatinian Dukes from 1588.
This print is thus an important source of information in many respects: the engraving dates only five years after the original was published in Antwerp by Galle and therefore it is evidence of how quickly #prints circulated within Europe and how Flemish iconographies were positively received and copied in Italy. The inscription also reveals that Don Vito in 1576 was working in Rome and not (yet) in Florence.
For references see Nagler, Thieme Becker and Alessandra Baroni’s Ph.D. thesis 2008 “The Medici and Printmaking: the Origins of the Print Collection of the Uffizi Gallery”.