Thursday, 15 December 2016
Frederick Christian Lewis’ coloured engraving, “Profil de Jeune Fille” after Sir Thomas Lawrence
Frederick Christian Lewis (1779–1856)
“Profil de Jeune Fille”, 1870 (?), after a crayon drawing by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–30), published in the “Gazette des Beaux-Arts” and printed by A Clément (fl. c.1887–92) in Paris.
Stipple engraved and either printed in colour employing the Baxter process (viz. “a mixed variety of printmaking, patented by George Baxter in 1835, using multiple wood-engraved blocks printed in colour over an intaglio key-plate” BM) or finished in watercolour at the time of publication. The print is trimmed close to the image borderline and mounted with conservator’s rice paste onto a heavy acid-free support sheet which has been lined onto a conservator’s support sheet of the finest (millennium quality) washi paper.
Size: (with support sheet mount) 40.3 x 33 cm; (trimmed sheet) 23.5 x 16.2; (image borderline) 22.1 x 15.1 cm
Lettered within the image borderline: (lower left) “Th. Lawrence del.” / “Gazette des Beaux-Arts.”; (lower centre) “PROFIL DE JEUNE FILLE”; (lower right) “F.C. Lewis sc.” / “Imp. A. Clèment_Paris”
Condition: The print is trimmed close to the image borderline and mounted with conservator’s rice paste onto a heavy acid-free support sheet which has been lined onto a conservator’s support sheet of the finest (millennium quality) washi paper. The mounted sheet is in faultless condition.
I am selling this exceptionally beautiful coloured engraving for the total cost of AU$83 (currently US$63.50/EUR58.72/GBP49.08 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this subtle portrait executed with sublime skill, please contact me (email@example.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This superb print has given me a big headache—and I don’t even suffer from headaches! The problem all stems from the printing process employed and when the print was published.
At first glance the lettered publication details below the image tell me that it is an engraving and close examination under a loupe confirms that this is the case, as I can clearly see areas of fine stippled hatching on the young girl’s eyebrows and the corner of her lips. At this point, I would normally assume that the engraving has been finished in watercolour. This is not a real issue as the large editions involved in James Sowerby’s thirty-six volumes with 2,592 hand-coloured plates of British plants testifies. My point of consternation is whether this is indeed an engraving that has been hand-finished in watercolour or coloured by the Baxter process “using multiple wood-engraved blocks printed in colour over an intaglio key-plate” (BM).
There are other niggling problems for me. I was advised by the original owner of this print that it was published in the famous “Gazette des Beaux-Arts” in 1870. I am certain that the seller was right about the publication as this is inscribed on the plate, but when I looked online to confirm that the print was featured in the Gazette of 1870 I could not find it listed in the indexes for that year. To be honest, however, I had my doubt about 1870 as the year that this print was published, because the printer, A Clément, was active as a printer at the much later period from around 1887 to 1892.
If there is a helpful soul that wishes to share their knowledge about this print I would be very thankful. This is a very beautiful print and it needs to be properly documented.