Wednesday, 13 July 2016

John Samuel Agar’s stipple engraving (1808) for the Society of Dilettanti


John Samuel Agar (1773–1858)
“Plate LXVII”, 1808, printed by T Bensley, published by T Payne and J White in 1809 for the Society of Dilettanti in “Specimens of Antient Sculpture, Aegyptian, Etruscan, Greek, and Roman”, London. According to Christie’s catalogue for Sale 7725, Lot 151, most of the illustrations in this two-volume book were made from the collections of Richard Payne Knight and Charles Townley. Christie’s also advise that there were 133 engraved plates in an edition of 200 copies, of which 60 were on large-paper reserved for members of the society. This print is from the reserved edition of 60 elephant folio prints.

Stipple engraving in sepia on thick laid paper, watermarked “J Watman 1809”, with extremely large margins (as published in the rare limited edition of 60 reserved for members of the Society of Dilettanti in 1809).
Size: (sheet) 54.5 x 37 cm; (plate) 28 x 22.8 cm
Lettered (lower left) “J. Agar del et sc.”; (lower centre) “BRASS. / same size / R.P. KNIGHT, Esq. / Published by T.Payne & I.White London, Jan 1st 1808.”; (upper left) “Plate LXII.”

Condition: crisp and strong impression with full margins (as published) in marvellous condition for its age.

I am selling this remarkably rare stipple engraving from 1808, published in the very small edition of only 60 prints, for the total cost of AU$108 (currently US$81.93/EUR74.02/GBP61.66 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this original engraving, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


For those who may be unfamiliar with the remarkable achievements of the Society of Dilettanti, I need to go back to its London roots in 1732 when the group had its first meetings as little more than a dining club with membership restricted to those who had made the grand tour of Europe. By 1736 the group had begun taking minutes of its meetings and the Society of Dilettanti was formed with the mission to give fellow Londoners a touch of culture—or to quote from Wikipedia: “to correct and purify the public taste of the country.”

At this point I should give a quote from none other than Horace Walpole who, in 1743, offered the following cutting insight about the society: "...a club, for which the nominal qualification is having been in Italy, and the real one, being drunk: the two chiefs are Lord Middlesex and Sir Francis Dashwood, who were seldom sober the whole time they were in Italy” (Jeremy Black (1985), “The British and the Grand Tour”, p.120).

Notwithstanding the willingness of some members of the society to indulge themselves with the finer things of life, the society funded archaeological expeditions, Italian opera and, with the help of Sir Joshua Reynolds, helped to establish the Royal Academy.

This print is from the Society of Dilettani’s major two-volume publication of classical antiquities and the elephant folio in which it was bound was limited to an edition of 60 copies available only to the members. It is very rare. 




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