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Handel’s  Great  Interpreter

Caterina  Galli’s  Love Song  as  Monkeyana

Landseer, Thomas (1795 London 1880). When first I saw thee graceful move. Love scene on a stage before harbor scenery. She slim and languishing, he singing entranced. In the background brawl. The persons as humanly dressed monkeys. Etching. (1827/28.) Inscribed: T. Landseer, otherwise as below. 6½ × 8 in (16.6 × 20.2 cm).

Rümann, Das Illustrierte Buch des 19. Jhdts., Leipsic 1930, pp. 99 ff.; Nagler 1; Thieme-Becker XXII, 305. – On especially wide-margined buff paper. – Lower and lateral margins feebly foxing in the outside parts. – With caption from Caterina Galli’s love song:

Thomas Landseer, When first I saw thee graceful move

“ When first I saw thee graceful move. Ah me, what meant my throbbing breast
Say soft confusion, art thou Love! If Love thou art — then farewell rest. ”

Caterina Galli (Cremona? c. 1723 – Chelsea 1804) came to England at the age of 19 and obtained as mezzo-soprano great popularity, particularly in breeches roles. Returned to Italy for about a decade in 1754, numerous performances in premieres at the leading opera houses of Genoa, Venice and Naples followed. Back in England, she had a particular triumph as contralto in the Messiah at the Haymarket Theatre in 1773. Lasting legacy then also generally her parts – frequently in world premieres – in many of Handel’s oratorios, including Judas Maccabaeus, Joshua, Alexander Balus, Solomon and Theodora.

Fine  impression  on  large  paper  from  the  famous  set  of  the  “Monkeyana” , one of the but few early and thus typical works by Landseer :

“ That Thomas Landseer may be judged only by these illustrations a little book with woodcuts proves which show next to nothing of his intellect ” .

Worked since 1827 the 25 etchings incl. title were published in numbers and with classical captions till 1828 in three editions: standard edition in quarto, edition on larger paper in large quarto, edition with proofs in large quarto, too. Besides copies on mounted China.

Otherwise qualified by Rümann i. a.:

“ Much  more  important  was  Edwin’s  brother  Thomas  Landseer …

… in the ’20s he distinguished himself by a series of 25 plates that were published 1828 under the title of ‘Monkeyana’ (ills. 57).

Technically  his  etchings  are  masterly ,

no less admirable the intellectual grasp of the subject. With much humor and sharp observation he transfers the plain life of his time to the monkey’s life. His sarcasm is biting, almost vicious. ”

In regard of the latter judgement Landseer’s contemporary Nagler, Monogramists V, 686, might be more to the point :

“ … the  habits , costumes , and  follies  of  his  time
(Landseer  has)  caricatured  delectably ” .

And Stechow sovereignly sums up :

“ Monkeys  always  fascinated  artists ”

(Pieter Bruegel, Cologne 1977, page 76).

“ The monkey as the animal most similar to man plays an important rôle in art history since antiquity.

As  figura  diaboli ,

as  symbol  of  sin  and  the  fall  of  man ,

as  fool , as  figure  of  vanity

he appears in most varied context … (A)lso the usual religious reference in the interpretation of the monkey as

man  mixed  up  in  his  passion  for  profane  things … ”

(Hella Robels, Frans Snyders, Munich 1989, page 43).

Later Thomas Landseer devoted himself largely to the reproduction of the animal depictions by his brother Sir Edwin.

Offer no. 14,382 / EUR  176. (c. US$ 203.) + shipping


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