Mantuan artist Giorgio Ghisi is considered one of the most important Italian engravers of the mid-16th century, yet because he and his contemporaries mostly worked in reproducing designs from famous paintings, his work is often neglected and his history is ambiguous. It is thought that his training began in Mantua, in the shop of Giovanni Battista Scultori, and was continued in Rome under Giulio Romano. When Ghisi was in Rome in the 1540’s, he is presumed to have met Hieronymus Cock, who brought Ghisi back to the Netherlands, establishing an important connection between Italian and northern engraving.
Ghisi’s prints mostly derive from famous works by Italian painters such as Bronzino, Corregio, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Salviati. Interestingly, he also produced images of his brother’s creations and of fellow Mantuan artist Giovanni Battista Bertani. He also combined motifs from others’ works into his own compositions, as in his famous “Allegory of Life” (1561).