- Jan Johnson
(b Carpi, flc. 1502–32).
Italian woodcutter. He trained as a type-founder and painter and c. 1509 moved to Venice, where he was employed for five or more years making woodcut book illustrations. Despite the menial nature of his work, which involved copying 15th-century designs, he broke with custom by signing his blocks. By 1515 he had secured an important commission from the Venetian publisher Bernardino Benalius to cut blocks for the Sacrifice of Abraham, (Passavant, VI, 223) a large black-and-white print on four joined sheets (Berlin, Altes Mus., 15.15). The composition is a pastiche of elements taken from Dürer and Titian and was designed perhaps by Ugo himself. Benalius sought a copyright for the print, and, probably under this influence, the following year Ugo sought the protection of the Venetian Senate for a colour-printing process he was now using, the chiaroscuro woodcut (see Woodcut, chiaroscuro, §1). He claimed to have invented the technique, although it was not this that was patented, as is often thought; rather he copyrighted all his chiaroscuro designs, past and future, doubtless due to the plagiarism of earlier works such as the ...