on the Art of Mezzotint
Christoffel, Ulrich. Meisterwerke englischer Schabkunst von 1757 bis 1833. One hundred gravures. With introductory text and extensive index. Munich, Franz Hanfstaengl, 1922. Imp. fol. (20½ × 15 × 2 in [52 × 38 × 5 cm]). 2 w. ll., XV pp., 1 w. l. With beige-colored cover sheets with printed artist/title protecting the
100 heliogravures (fr. photogravures)
as a mental parade of great , medium and small names , providing the synopsis .
Contemp. green morocco on 6 ribs with gilt back title and 2-fold fillets on the back, 4 and 2-fold fillets on the boards for edges and center piece as well as 2 fillets on the turn-ins. (K[arl] Ebert Munich.)
No. 3/140 copies of the preferential edition (one-time total edition 300 copies) on specially produced untrimmed laid paper for the gravures, in the upper margin with watermark Van Gelder Zonen, in the lower margin that of the publishers. And contrary to the publisher’s egalitarian, downright crummy merely half leather binding for both preferential & ordinary copies here in
Karl Ebert’s adequately heavy master binding
(all in all well about 8 kilogram and by this three more than per the publisher’s binding) as only doing justice to an edition of this pretension.
The photographic takes from the originals of the British Museum in London, the gravures produced in the publisher’s technical office.
Mezzotint — allowing only about “50 or 60 clean impressions. Afterwards, however, (the image) soon grinds off as it does not go deep into the copper.” So the expert von Sandrart 1675. Correspondingly their scarcity as stated already 1856 by the Werkbearbeiters Thienemann for Ridinger’s:
“ all … so rare that they are to be found almost only in some public, magnificient printrooms. I have encountered most of the described in the famous Dresden cabinet only … “ .
“ brought in the Dutch engraver Wallerant Vaillant (1623-77). Vaillant and in particular Abraham Bloeteling (Amsterdam 1634-87; 1672-78 in London, ‘where his influence became significant for the propagation of the mezzotint in England’ [Christoffel]) have perfected the technique and established it inHolland, while in Germany it became known through the Mayence canon Theodor Kaspar von Fürstenberg (1615-77) and was gradually propagated further by Augsburg and Nuremberg workshops.
“ England was the chief place of cultivation of the mezzotint in the 18th cent. Here it evolved into a kind of national art by the rendition of the works of the great English painters Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney, Hoppner, and Morland. Relayed also by Prince Rupert, it attained its greatest perfection by the hands of excellent engravers like John Smith, James Mac Ardell, Valentine Green, and John Raphael Smith (1732-1802), the most important master of the mezzotint … The mezzotint became important for color engraving, too “
(Erich von Rath in Löffler-Kirchner, Lexikon des Gesamten Buchwesens, III , 202). And the
“ Heliogravure is a method invented 1878 by the Vienna painter Karl Klič for the production of etchings on copperplates for the intaglio. The h. is a hand press copperplate printing which is created on a photographic basis … Characteristic for the h. is the softness and warmth of the tints as well as the impression of the platemark which creates the link to the engraving. The h. figured prominently in the book illustration of the years 1890-1910, it was downright characteristic for the
monochrome illustration of precious , luxuriant and top-quality books ,
especially of works which were printed in small editions. As it was expensive, it was superseded later more and more by the mechanical intaglio or heliography … ”
(Wilhelm Olbrich in Löffler-Kirchner as above, vol. I , p. 80).
And unsurpassed this softness and warmth of the tone pitches that of the mezzotint, as if the eye rests on one of its originals. Opening the book and being captured by the beauty of the pictures casting off all the stress is the same. With the portraits indeed eagerly picked by the mezzotint, but also beyond their big names not distracting the eye, now beguiled by a remarkable background or, usually and rather more so, by the full fascination of the proverbial English parkland conveying its peace.
“ All the pride and since long undisputed fame of English portrait art are the large, ceremonial portraits of the highborn ladies. The sublimity and dignity of the poise are strangely played around by a charm of grace and innocence which to render all painters vie. Rarely these ladies appear other than on a promenade in their parks, amongst slenderly grown trees which lean above the tender figures, and abandoned to the dreamy mood of the hazy landscape.
All the mood elements of female sensibility and the painterly landscape
the mezzotint can work out almost better than probably the painting .
“ Quite unusual, too, that the gentle ladies are represented mostly in full figure, indeed more frequently standing and stepping than sitting, and that here the artistic difficulty to place a human figure correctly proportioned and naturally in the space has not only been overcome easily,
but is nothing less than conditioned as an asset of the task .
“ Reynolds proves himself in this field, too, due to the agility of his imagination and the inexaustible wealth of ideas, as
first painter of the English portrait ”
(Christoffel within Die Auffassung der Englischen Bildniskunst des 18. Jahrhunderts, p. IX/I) .
Specially picked out yet also George Morland’s Horse Barn & Evening in Leicestershire, Copley’s Rt. Hon. Henry Addington, Gainsborough’s renowned Admiral George Lord Rodney, Zoffany’s Royal Academy & The Porter with the Hare, Reynold’s Captain Robert Haldane as beginning, galloping in battle marshal John Lord Ligonier & the naval heros Samuel Hood, Lord of the Admiralty, & Captain John Lockhart, Wright’s Blacksmith & A Scholar explains the Planetarium, Northcote’s Falconer, Hoppner’s Nelson, Hogarth’s Marriage à la Mode II.
100 times feast for the eyes accompanied by intellectual activity. Split between 24 painters with Reynolds (43) & John Hoppner (14) as frontrunners and 32 mezzotint masters, including crème de la crème as Richard Earlom (4), Valentine Green (11), John Raphael Smith (13), William Ward (2) & James Ward (4).
And all this on this splendidly large, untrimmed and impeccably fresh Van Gelder with the margins in correspondence with the images of varied, yet always topflight width and practically perfect preservation. To be mentioned only the dog’s ear in the lower right corner of the front white fly leaf and the two following white leaves and a small brown spot far right in the white lower margin of plate 29 as the enchanting Lady Compton by Green after Reynolds. The commanding binding with but few small scrapings.
And so then also a piece in its own league. Up to the leather in its softness and warmth, analogeously to the gravures, the mezzotint. And thus in noticeable distance to the mere half leather of the publisher’s binding which cannot satisfy such need. By the harshness and chilliness of its covers. And here even the
No. 3 (!) in closest vicinity to Dr. Stinnes’s passion as the famous Prince of the No. 1
… so have what the other lack
Offer no. 16,242 / price on application
„ Beste heer Niemeyer, Hartelijk dank voor de snelle terugboeking (concerning a bill paid for already one year ago). Zoiets schept altijd vertrouwen! Beste groeten “
(Mijnheer P. E., 3. Februar 2009)