Wednesday, 9 November 2016

JS Cotman’s soft-ground etching “Postwick Grove Norfolk”


John Sell Cotman (1782–1842)
“Postwick Grove Norfolk”, 1813–18, from the series, “Liber Studiorum”, published by H G Bohn in 1838 in "Liber Studiorum - A Series of Sketches and Studies by John Sell Cotman.”

Soft-ground etching (i.e. “a method of printmaking in which a drawing is made on a sheet of paper on a soft etching ground, pulled off, and the resulting design transferred to the plate by etching” BM) on heavy cream wove paper with wide margins as published.
Size: (sheet) 32 x 46.9 cm; (plate) 15.5 x 22.5 cm
Lettered above image at upper right corner with plate number, “7“, and within image in scratched letters at lower left with title and at centre “J.S. Cotman”.
Popham 1922 302 (Popham, A E, “The Etchings of John Sell Cotman”, Print Collector's Quarterly, 9, London, Campbell Dodgson, 1922)
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Plate 7. Two men standing in a river, pulling an upturned boat from a partly wooded bank, where two men are seated near trees; planks and tree trunk in foreground at right; boat in the water at left; windmill in background at right.” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3348360&partId=1&people=128389&peoA=128389-2-60&page=1)

Condition: superb impression in very good condition for its age (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, folds or foxing), but there is light time-aging (i.e. slight darkening) at the extreme edges of the sheet and there is a vertical mark/smudge in the lower margin.

I am selling this original and rare soft-ground etching by one of the acknowledged masters of the English landscape, JS Cotman, for a total cost of AU$164 (currently US$126.02/EUR113.82/GBP101.42 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this major print by Cotman, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


All of Cotman’s soft-ground etchings were executed before 1818 but they were not published until 1938 by HG Bohn—a few years before the artist died.

Interestingly, in the process of printing the Bohn edition the plates became worn/“exhausted” and, as a result, marvellous impressions like this one are rare. Certainly, beyond early pre-lettered proofs, the only original etchings from the “Liber Studiorum” series that may be found on the market are those from the very limited Bohn edition.

One of the advantages of the soft-ground etching process is that the artist draws directly and fluidly onto a piece of paper laid over the sticky ground of the prepared etching plate. Moreover, the lines transferred to the plate while drawing on the paper become a true record of the varying pressure exerted by the artist when making each stroke. Accordingly, this print has all the intrinsic beauty of a drawing in that it reveals slight hesitations as he thinks and observes the subject in front of him (see, for example, the hesitancy in Cotman’s depiction of the figures) and, by contrast, an almost calligraphic flow when he works unhesitatingly (as seen, for example, in the rendering of the foliage mass of the trees).






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