Adamo Scultori was the son of the printmaker and sculptor Giovanni Battista Scultori (1503-1575) and brother of Diana Scultori (see lots 46 and 49), and thus grew up in a family of engravers. He worked in his native city of Mantua and also in Rome, where he produced a series of 72 engravings after Michelangelo’s Ignudiand briefly joined forces with the publisher Antonio Lafreri.
His family and artistic heritage continued to have a strong influence on him: his father Giovanni Battista had been a pupil of Giulio Romano, the inventor of this image.
The drawing by Giulio on which this engraving is based is now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (inv. no. 3560). It is closely related to a tondoon the upper part of the walls of the Camera dei Ventiin the Palazzo Te in Mantua. The relatively small room, whose decorations date to circa 1527-28, owes its name to the masks of the personified winds in the lower part of the ceiling. The room is also known as the Camera dello Zodiacoand depicts the influence of the gods and planets on the destiny of man in frescoes dedicated to the different signs of the zodiac and constellations of the sky. The twelve astrological signs are represented by their usual symbols and illustrated with related scenes in the tondibelow: the present image, associated with the Pisces-Cetussign, shows fishermen in three converging boats frantically attempting to drag a monstrous fish – a giant octopus or squid - from the waves.
According to Bellini (1991), this engraving was made by Adamo during his third phase, in Mantua between 1563 and 1565, just before the artist moved to Rome.