Holbein & Wife
Bartolozzi’s Color Stipple Pendants
of the Original Folio Edition
in Deluxe Impressions on China
before the Letter
and that of his wife
Half-length portrait to the right and half-length portrait to the left resp. 2 sheet. Color stipples by Francesco Bartolozzi (Florence 1727 – Lisbon 1815) after the – so Thieme-Becker – copies by Hans Bock I (Saverne, Alsace, c. 1550 – Basle c. 1623). Inscribed: From the Original Picture by Hans Holbein. / Engraved by F. Bartolozzi R.A. Historical Engraver to his Majesty. / Published as the Act directs June 25. 1798. by I. Chamberlaine Brompton(,) Midd(lese)x. 55.5-21⅞ × 17 in (55.7 × 43.2 cm).
MARVELOUS CHINA IMPRESSIONS OF THE ORIGINAL EDITION
before the inscription
Portrait of Hans Holbein and Portrait of Holbein’s Wife resp.
At Kensington Palace
in the wide white field of the lower margin between subject border and the publisher’s inscription. – Mounted on strong Whatman wove paper with watermark 1794 (Heawood 3460) for the sheet of the wife and cut J Whatman (Heawood 3457 ff., thereby reference 3457 recte 1784) for himself. The latter in the lower margin between the three-lined border of the subject and the line of the inscription still with the delicate remains of an equal border of four lines quite running through.
The self-portrait by the way in direct context with the colored pencil drawing to the left in Basle, see Knackfuß, 1895, p. 49.
A certain age toning in the subject no more perceptible than the each up to 4 cm wide horizontal light brown streaks on the back of the Whatman supporting paper, the margins of which show narrow-striped traces of mounting from previous framing. The self-portrait there besides with some additional brown spots. Otherwise perfect and with a sheet-size of 26⅜-26⅝ × 20⅜-20½ in (67-67.5 × 51.7-52 cm) cm quite markedly larger than those of bound copies, which with respect to the somewhat smaller actual corpus of drawings are trimmed to its sheet-size of about 21⅝ × 16⅞ in (55 × 43 cm). Margins of present China impressions themselves then also at the sides 0.7-2 cm and top & bottom 2.5-3 cm wide.
THE FAMOUS PENDANTS IN KENSINGTON PALACE
from the 84-sheet (AKL 87) collection of 83 plates Imitation of original drawings by Hans Holbein in the collection of his Majesty … 84 large portraits … printed in colours by Bartolozzi (including the portraits of Holbein and his wife [two paintings by H. B(ock)]) published 1792-1800 by the curator of the Royal Collection of Drawings and Medals, John Chamberlaine, that set of personages at the court of Henry VIII which
Caroline of Ansbach , wife of George II ,
discovered in Kensington Palace 1727 and then had framed and hung at her favorite residence Richmond Lodge. In such a way she wrote art history with this set.
Brought back again to Kensington in the 1740s they were unframed under George III and joined in two folios. Efforts now setting in towards their publication especially by George Vertue, then between 1774 and 1791 by George’s First Librarian Richard Dalton remained unsatisfactory. So the quality of the 35 sheet engraved by the latter as indiscriminate compilation also from the stock of the British Museum proved as uniformly poor. Only with Chamberlaine’s assumption of office in 1791 the job was done properly. Except for four (or 5?) all sheet were engraved by Bartolozzi who nevertheless had been brought to England already by Dalton 1764 and appointed Royal Historical Engraver 1768. Also each of the drawing sheets was supplemented by a text written by Edmund Lodge. A second edition of the large folio edition ensued 1823, reduced quarto editions, partly still named folio, were published 1812 + 1828. They all are of greatest rarity on the market and already the collection of the contemporary art historian and collector Leopoldo Conte Cicognara (Ferara 1767 – Venice 1834) could record per no. 2011 of the catalog (“In 1821 he published what might be today his most consulted book … a snapshot of the available literature on art and art history”) of his famous library purchased 1824 by the Vatican only a later edition.
The impressions of the original edition published in numbers on apparently various papers. Thusly proven for the splendid copy at Venator 1969 (XXXIV/659; sheet-size 21½ × 16½ in [54.5 × 42 cm], 5 sheet by Bartolozzi’s pupil C. Metz) from supposedly the former possession of Prince Frederick of Prussia/Rheinstein Castle or countess Lanckoronska with some on toned paper and others on reinforced buff white wove paper. As a whole besides qualified as
“ one of the most beautiful portrait works in color engraving ”.
Essential details of the preceding taken with thanks from the exhibition catalog George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste, London, 2004, its copy of the Imitatio with only 72 plates incomplete by the way.
BARTOLOZZI’S TECHNIQUE OF THE COLORED ONE-PLATE STIPPLE with which
“ each impression also required a new inking of the plate
was taken up in the 18th century foremost in England … (and with the same he has) created very effective and highly esteemed color engravings, which as a rule had to be (given follow-up treatment) with the brush. Essentially different from (such) one-plate printing is the actual color engraving which uses several plates” (Löffler-Kirchner I, 524) and originates in Le Blond’s works in Amsterdam about 1710, on which then again Ridinger’s only mezzotint printed in colors, a stag hunt from about 1725 (Schwerdt III, plate 214; publications by the ridinger gallery niemeyer XX, p. 5; both in colors) as according to Wend “presumably the earliest German mezzotint in colors”, bases.
“Bartolozzi was inferior to none also in line engraving and has created a number of the most excellent works especially from Italian paintings in this technique. He declared Gérard Audran’s masterpieces as his models” (Thieme-Becker). And in AKL Alessandro Tosi speaks of “his masterly command of the art of engraving and etching, frequently in a wide scale of tonal values”.
HANS BOCK THE ELDER finally as according to Thieme-Becker provider of the design of Holbein’s present true portrait pendants was a highly estimated artist beyond Basle … a master of compilation or even verbatim quoting. Always, however, he also remained bound with the highly esteemed art of Hans Holbein II … (Generally with him) it is either more or less true copies directly from famous originals or quotes from works … which were available (to him) as reproduction prints. Some copies after H. Holbein are known” (AKL).
In such a way then under the most various aspects a roundabout fine object .
Offer no. 28,903 / EUR 1998. / export price EUR 1898. (c. US$ 2194.) + shipping
„ das ‚Haupt-Schwein‘ ist gut … angekommen und gefällt … falls sich weitere Funde … auftun, freue ich mich über Ihre Nachricht “
(Herr W. S., 29. August 2002)