Crossing Parallels. Agostino Carracci and Hendrick Goltzius

9 December 2020 until 14 March 2021, extended until 2 May 2021

Every era chooses its stars. And each epoch that follows determines whether their light will fade or shine even brighter. Wouldn’t we just love to know which famous figures of our time will still enthuse our great-grandchildren? Knowing the answer to that is a privilege held by the art of centuries long past. Agostino Carracci and Hendrick Goltzius are amongst those who succeeded. They were the leading engravers of the late 16th century – one in Italy and the other in the Netherlands –, and even today their works are shown in exhibitions, traded on the art market, discussed in seminars and taken by artists as sources of inspiration.

Yet surprisingly, the two artists have never before been confronted in an exhibition. For, in addition to their success as engravers, there are further parallels: both were interested in literature and art theory, and each of them founded an academy in his own hometown. Independently of one another, they both discovered the illusionistic potential of lines that swell and taper and made an important contribution to the development of the engraving technique, paving the way for the print of the baroque era. Despite their outstanding success in the medium of print, both of them, in older age, turned increasingly to painting instead.

The exhibition, however, does more than simply draw the parallels in their lives. It also seeks the points of interaction between them. In order to show how these two artists acknowledged and influenced one another, the entire thematic spectrum of their work is presented, from devotional images to portraiture to explicitly erotic images. The varying functions of these pictures is reflected in the use of different formats: while some of the works on display are the size of a postage stamp, others are as large as a tabletop.



We only see what we know – this always holds true and, for us, it means that the more you know about the context of the pictures, the more you will enjoy and appreciate them. So we would like to share our enthusiasm and knowledge with you: through our free exhibition app sponsored by LGT Private Banking, which we developed especially for this exhibition with the Game Technology Center of the ETH Zurich. You can download the app with the QR code or at and try it out directly with the two images.

That’s the way to do it: Open the app, start the art scanner and point the camera of your smartphone or tablet at one of the artworks. After a short introduction you can choose your own topics.

links: Hendrick Goltzius nach Cornelis van Haarlem, Ikarus, aus der Folge Die vier Himmelsstürmer, 1588, Kupferstich, Ø 334 mm, Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich; rechts: Agostino Carracci nach Andrea Boscoli, Harmonie der Sphären, 1589–1592, Kupferstich und Radierung, 246 × 354 mm, Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich


The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive publication in German and English published by Michael Imhof Verlag.

All information on the events related to the exhibition is available on our website and via our newsletter at Please note that due to the Corona crisis, there may be changes to the programme of events at short notice.

Curatorial Team: Dr. Susanne Pollack of the Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich and
Dr. Samuel Vitali of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

Due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the maximum number in the exhibition room is limited to 15 persons. Masks are compulsory.

Read also the latest article A modern way to discover art from the past on the ETH Zürich website.