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Thursday 4 January 2018

François de Poilly I’s engraving of “St. Jerome seated in a cave”, mid-1600s

François de Poilly I (1622–1693)

“St. Jerome seated in a cave”, 1635-93, after Guido Reni (1575–1642), published by François de Poilly I with royal privilege (as inscribed on the plate).

Engraving on laid paper trimmed within the platemark and lined onto an archival support sheet.
Size: (sheet, timed unevenly) 41 x 36.8 cm
Inscribed on plate lower right of centre: “F. Poilly ex. cum privil. Regis”
(Note: there is another inscription that may be handwritten to the left of centre but it is too fine and faint to decipher)

V&A reference: Dyce Collection. “A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce”. London: South Kensington Museum: Printed by G.E. Eyre and W. Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1874.

Condition: the impression is crisp but there are numerous restorations and stains. The sheet is laid onto a washi paper support sheet.

I am selling this large engraving executed in exceptionally fine detail from the mid-1600s for the total cost of AU$152 (currently US$119.20/EUR98.74/GBP87.98 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. Note: the print was originally glued to a support sheet of an old engraving featuring the date “1654” and I am delighted to include this fragment of an engraving with the purchase of this print.

If you are interested in purchasing this remarkable engraving filled with the attributes of St Jerome—viz. the lion which followed him after the saint removed a thorn from its paw; the “hermit’s cave” in which he lived (note that as this is a male hermit’s cave as the location is far from town whereas a female hermit’s cave is usually represented as close to town); the saint’s “cardinal clothes”; the cross above his bookstand; the skull beneath his desk; the books and his writing material—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For a change in the daily discussions, I thought I would share a small sequence of photos showing the process that I used to restore this very beautiful print that centuries of handling and accumulation of dirt has darkened and made fragile.

My first step was to bathe the print in distilled water placed in the sun. The aim at this point was to rinse away the surface dirt and to “kill” the mould in the sun’s UV. Equally important, I wanted to soften the paper so that the old support sheet—an engraving dating back to the Siege of Smolensk in 1654 (the date is inscribed in the print)—could be removed and replaced with fresh archival paper designed to last a few millenniums into the future.

In the photos showing the roller, the old engraved support sheet is being carefully parted from Poilly’s engraving lying face down—I worked hard to ensure that both prints were preserved as both are wonderful. What came as a surprise is that I discovered a piece of grass (or an insect’s preserved leg) sandwiched between the two prints … yuck! ... This explained a mysterious stain on both prints.

After removing the support sheet I dried and absorbed away the residue glue from the back of Poilly’s engraving before laminating the print onto its fresh support sheet. Note in the final photo that Poilly’s engraving and the Siege of Smolensk are both now preserved.

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