Saturday, 26 May 2018

Comte de Caylus’ “The Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles” (green variant), c1729–64


Anne Claude Philippe de Tubières, Comte de Caylus (aka Caylus; Anne Claude de Caylus; Anne Claude de Pestels) (1692–1765)

“Le Saint Esprit descendant sur les Apôtres” (The Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles), c1729–64, from the series, “Recueil d'estampes d'après les plus beaux tableaux et d'après les plus beaux desseins qui sont en France” (Collection of prints from the most beautiful paintings and from the most beautiful designs that are in France”) (aka “Recueil Crozat”; “Cabomet Croza”), after the drawing by Giovanni Battista Lenardi (1656–1704).

Etching and aquatint imitating a chiaroscuro woodcut, printed in two shades of green, on laid paper, trimmed unevenly and well within the image borderline with substantial loss to the upper section of the print (see the whole composition at Gallica: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b6956138w.item ) and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (unevenly trimmed sheet) 27.3 x 23 cm

Condition: crisp, well-inked and well-printed impression, trimmed within the image borderline with significant losses on all sides, otherwise the sheet is in excellent condition for its age (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing) and backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this FRAGMENT of a larger print for study purposes only, for AU$104 (currently US$78.60/EUR67.37/GBP59.10 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this FRAGMENT of a historically important print (see previous post), please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print is reserved pending advice about its purchase


At first glance, this fragment of a print might seem to be a green version of the brown print shown in the previous post, but this is only partly true. Certainly, the composition is the same, but the portrayed figures in this fragment reveal a stage of refinement that is a step beyond the treatment of the same figures in the brown version. Essentially this green fragment is from a late state in the evolution of the print and the brown version of the previous post is from an early state. To my eyes the subtle changes made to the image from the early to the late state—and there are MANY changes—is like a psychological portrait of comte de Caylus in terms of revealing his aesthetic sensitivities. 





Friday, 25 May 2018

Comte de Caylus’ “The Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles”, c1729–64


Anne Claude Philippe de Tubières, Comte de Caylus (aka Caylus; Anne Claude de Caylus; Anne Claude de Pestels) (1692–1765)

“Le Saint Esprit descendant sur les Apôtres” (The Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles), c1729–64, from the series, “Recueil d'estampes d'après les plus beaux tableaux et d'après les plus beaux desseins qui sont en France” (Collection of prints from the most beautiful paintings and from the most beautiful designs that are in France”) (aka “Recueil Crozat”; “Cabomet Croza”), after the drawing by Giovanni Battista Lenardi (1656–1704).

Etching and aquatint imitating a chiaroscuro woodcut, printed in two shades of brown, on laid paper with wide margins (as published).
Size: (sheet) 50.5 x 36.8 cm; (plate) 39.7 x 25.6 cm; (image borderline) 36 x 24.9 cm
Lettered below the image borderline in three lines of French text: “Le S.t Esprit descendant sur les Apôtres. / Dessein de Jean Baptiste Lenardi, qui est dans le Cabinet de Mr Crozat / Gravé à l'eau forte par Mr le C... de C... et en bois sous sa conduite par Nicolas le Sueur […] 130”.
IFF 308 (undescribed state) (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The Pentecost, with the Virgin standing at centre, surrounded by the Apostles, and the Holy Spirit flying above them; after a drawing by Lenardi.”

Condition: near faultless impression that is crisp, well-inked and well-printed with full margins as published. The sheet is in very good condition for its age but the margins are slightly dusty and show minor signs of use (e.g. the lower left corner is bumped and there is a pencil notation at the lower right edge).

I am selling this 18th century curiosity of an intaglio print (viz. etching with aquatint) that is skilfully crafted to simulate the attributes/“look” of a chiaroscuro woodcut (i.e. a woodcut involving more than one tone of a colour) for AU$204 (currently US$154.56/EUR132.04/GBP115.82 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this historically important print showcasing an 18th century artist’s somewhat deceptive practice, 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


Although this intaglio print was clearly intended to deceive the viewer into believing that the image is a relief print, the artist’s motivation was more complex than simply a case of skulduggery.

After all, comte de Caylus was commissioned to execute this print as a late addition to the grand catalogue project, “Recueil Crozat”, by the French collector, Pierre Crozat (1665–1740), who had the vision to create a paper museum reproducing famous paintings and drawings of the era. In the first two volumes (published 1729 and 1737 respectively), Crozat commissioned woodcut prints, but after his death, the famous art dealer and publisher,  François Basan (1723–1797), replaced the woodcut prints in the “Recueil” with intaglio prints such as this one. 

Mindful that the decision to mix mediums—or at least the superficial attributes of mediums—may have been a requirement of the “Recueil” project overseen by Basan helps to explain comte de Caylus’ motivation. After reading Margaret Morgan Grasselli’s (2003) essay in “Colorful Impressions: The Printmaking Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France” (cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington), however, I have a better understanding of comte de Caylus’ choice to use etched line. For example, Grasselli, proposes that intaglio lines “captured the quality of pen lines in a way that woodcut line blocks could not” (p. 6).

In short, comte de Caylus’ motivation was not simple skulduggery, Instead his approach may have been a requirement set by Basan and personal insight about what was needed to make a strong reproductive translation of Lenardi’s drawing.








Thursday, 24 May 2018

Francesco Bartolozzi’s stipple engraving, “The Spirit of a Child”, 1787


Francesco Bartolozzi (1728–1815)

“The Spirit of a Child”, 1787, after the painting by Rev. Matthew William Peters (1741/2–1814), published in 1801 by J & J Boydell.

Etching and stipple engraving with early hand-colouring (as published?) on laid paper with small margins backed with a support sheet.
Size: (support sheet) 64.4 x 44.7 cm; (sheet) 58.4 x 41.1 cm; (plate) 57 x 39.5 cm; (inner image borderline) 50.1 x 37.5 cm.

Lettered below the image borderline: (left) “Painted by the Rev. Wm, Peters of Exeter College Oxford & R.A; (centre); (centre in six lines of text with a coat of arms breaking the first four lines at the centre) “The SPIRIT of a CHILD arriv'd […] in the PRESENCE of the ALMIGHTY. / And the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne […] shall feed them and shall lead them unto / living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away […] all Tears from their Eyes. / To Her Grace Mary Isabella Dutchess of Rutland […] […]c. […]c. This Print from a Picture by Mr Peters / is humbly Inscrib’d by Her Graces most humble and most Oblig’d Servants. F. & F Boydell. / London. Pub. July 1, 1801, by J. & J. Boydell, at the Shakspeare [sic] Gallery, Pall Mall; & No. 90. Cheapside.”; (left) “Engraved by F. Bartolozzi".

I do not have a listing of the various states of this print, but as the fifth state is the edition published by W Dickinson in 1787 showing this publisher’s details and the publication details were changed with the edition by Boydell in 1801, this impression is either from the six or a later state.

Calabi & De Vesme 1928 342 (Augusto Calabi & Alexandre De Vesme 1928, “Francesco Bartolozzi. Catalogue des estampes et notice biographique d'après les manuscrits de A. De Vesme entièrement réformés et complétés d'une étude critique par A. Calab”i, Milan, Guido Modiano).
The British Museum offers the following description of this print from the fifth state published by William Dickinson [1746–1823]):
“An angel, clothed in swirling draperies with a palm in its right hand, ascends upwards with a child at its side. 1787 Hand-coloured etching and stipple”

Condition: a well-printed crisp impression with delicate hand-colouring and small margins laid upon a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. There are many closed tears that have been professionally restored with watercolour, abrasions and chipping to the margins otherwise the sheet is in a very good restored condition.

I am selling this exceptionally large and sublimely beautiful engraving—one of Bartolozzi’s masterworks—for AU$334 (currently US$252.59/EUR215.23/GBP188.56 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this masterpiece of stipple engraving, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.



This is a large print and one of Bartolozzi’s masterworks of stipple engraving that made him one of the most famous practitioners of this slow, labour intensive and highly disciplined process. To offer an insight into what was involved in executing this print, Herbert Baily (1907) in “Francesco Bartolozzi, R.A.” (Otto, London) gives the following outline of the process:

“In the ordinary way of engraving, a copper plate was coated with wax, and the engraver then sketched out his subject with an etching needle, these lines afterwards being bitten on to the plate with acid. The wax was then removed, and the engraver went over the bitten dots with a finely pointed tool called a stipple graver, with which he put in, at the cost of considerable labour, and only by the surest and most sensitive touch, the fine effects of light and shade required in this style of engraving, which depended entirely for its success upon the appearance of softness and delicacy” (p. xiv).






Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Charles Émile Jacque’s etching, “Le Petit Faune”, 1845, after Giovanni Battista Tiepolo


Charles Émile Jacque (1813–1894)

“Le Petit Faune” (title on plate), 1845, after Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s (aka Giambattista Tiepolo) (1696–1770) etching of the same subject in reverse (see http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.35112), printed by Auguste Delâtre (1822–1907) and published in “L’Artiste” in 1846.

Etching and drypoint on wove paper with small margins and re-margined with a support sheet.
Size: (support sheet) 35.1 x 38.4 cm; (sheet) 20 x 23.7 cm; (plate) 16.4 x 19.4 cm; (image borderline) 14.2 x 17.3 cm
Lettered on the plate above the image borderline: (centre) “L’ARTISTE.”
Inscribed on the plate within the image borderline: (on the Tambourine) “Tiepolo”
Lettered on the plate below the image borderline: (centre) “LE PETIT FAUNE / Gravé par CH. JACQUES d’aprés / TIEPOLO”; (left) “...[?] Delȃtre fres imp”

Condition: richly inked and crisp impression in near pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, stains, abrasions or foxing). The sheet has been re-margined with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this beautifully preserved etching by one of the luminaries of the Barbizon School after one of the most famous of all artists, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, for AU$138 (currently US$104.16/EUR88.88/GBP77.94 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this etching that is seldom seen on the art market, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


Although there will always be exceptions to what motivates artists to choose a subject—such as Jacque’s choice to copy this particular composition by Tiepolo­—a theory that was first proposed by Friedrich Shiller in “On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry” (1796) is that artists choose subject matter that helps to satisfy their psychological needs. Or to express this differently, artists choose subject matter that is the complementary opposite of what they normally experience in everyday life to give their lives balance. (For more information about this theory see Alain de Botton & John Armstrong [2013] in “Art as Therapy”, Phaidon Press, London, p. 34.)

Indeed Shiller may be correct in terms of Jacque’s choice to copy this mythological scene of a woman holding a tambourine and the child satyr, Saturn, with an agitated goat behind her. After all, at the time that Jacque was celebrating the natural beauty of his rural lifestyle his world was changing with the spread of the industrial revolution where the only place for idyllic peace was in a fantasy world of mythology.



Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tancrède Abraham’s etching, “Hunting in the Marshes”, 1863


Tancrède Abraham (1836–1895)

"La Chasse au Marais" (aka “Hunting in the Marshes”), 1863, published in "L'Artiste" (1863?).

Etching on wove paper trimmed close to the plate mark and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (support sheet) 45 x 35.5 cm; (sheet) 34.3 x 24.2 cm; (image borderline) 31 x 23.8 cm
Inscribed on the plate within the image borderline: “63 T. ABRAHAM.”
Surprisingly, this large print does not seem to be in any of the major art museums, nevertheless, it features in the online images offered by Wikimedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tancr%C3%A8de_Abraham-La_chasse_dans_le_marais.jpg (Note: Wikimedia credits the Cabinet des estampes et des dessins de Strasbourg as holding this print but my search was unsuccessful in finding it).

Condition: a richly inked and well-printed impression with the centrefold (from the publication of the print in "L'Artiste") flattened and now virtually invisible resulting from the print having been backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper and light retouching of the fold line crease. The sheet is trimmed close to the platemark/image borderline and is in near pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this large and visually arresting romantic etching for AU$146 (currently US$113.02/EUR95.91/GBP84.21 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this spectacular and darkly moody print showing an almost invisible lurking hunter in the darkness of a tree-bordered marshland glade, 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


To my eyes, this dark and romantically moody print presents a slightly different scene from what the title proposes: a hunter stealthily seeking game in a marshland glade bordered by tall trees. For me it is not really about hunting at all—even through an almost invisible hunter is portrayed in the shadow—but rather the focus of the composition is on light shimmering on and sparkling through a screen of trees. This particular focus was very topical at the time that the print was executed—1863: the advent of a change in thinking foreshadowing the first Impressionist Exhibition of 1874.







Monday, 21 May 2018

Watanabe Shōtei’s woodblock prints, “Cicada on Lotus” & “Butterfly on Hydrangea”, 1890



Watanabe Shōtei [渡辺省亭] aka Watanabe Seitei (1851–1918)

(upper image) “Cicada on Lotus,” 1890, from the series of 86 woodblock prints, “Seitei kacho gafu 省亭花鳥画譜 (Seitei's Bird-and-Flower Painting Manual)”, published in 1890 by Ogura Shoten. Two separate colour woodblock panels glued together as a single image (i.e. two prints joined as a single sheet), 24.8 x 31 cm.

(lower image) “Butterfly on Hydrangea,” 1890, from the series of 86 woodblock prints, “Seitei kacho gafu 省亭花鳥画譜 (Seitei's Bird-and-Flower Painting Manual)”, volume 2, published in 1890 by Ogura Shoten.  Two separate colour woodblock panels glued together as a single image (i.e. two prints joined as a single sheet), 22.9 x 31.1 cm.

Note: Harrison-Hiett (rare books) offers detailed information about the two-volume book that these woodblock prints feature: http://www.harrison-hiett.com/rare-books/d/kacho-gafu-%5Bvol-1-and-2%5D-english-title%3A-%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%98album-of-birds-and-flowers%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%99/132197

Brown, Louise Norton, “Block Printing and Book Illustration in Japan”, London and New York, 1924, p. 202.
Mitchell, C H, with the assistance of Ueda, Osamu,”The Illustrated Books of the Nanga, Maruyama, Shijo and Other Related Schools of Japan. A Biobibliography”, Los Angeles, 1972, p. 466.
Toda, Kenji, “Descriptive Catalogue of the Japanese and Chinese Illustrated Books in the Ryerson Library of the Art Institute of Chicago”, Chicago, 1931, p. 427.

Condition: Beautifully delicate impressions in pristine condition for their age (note that each sheet consists of two separate plates that have been joined/glued perfectly).

I am selling this pair of extraordinary prints by a true master of the Japanese woodblock tradition for a total cost of AU$260 (currently US$195.33/EUR166.52/GBP145.63 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing these original woodblock prints please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 



Watanabe Shōtei has the distinction of being one of the first Nihonga artists (i.e. a traditional Japanese artist) to travel to Europe in the nineteenth century. Not only did he visit Europe, but in France he was awarded a bronze medal at the 1878 International Exhibition. Beyond this remarkable achievement of long distance travel, he is also famous for revitalising kachoga (bird-and-flower images) by introducing realistic visual devices of Western art into the comparatively flat planes, high-key tones and delicate colours of the Maruyama-Shijo School.

Regarding the difference between Occidental and Oriental ways of looking at art that Watanabe Shōtei attempted to merge, I’ve just started reading a book that I just can’t put down—except when the cook has made something tasty—that touches upon this particular issue: Claire Roberts’ (2010), “Friendship in Art: Fou Lei and Huang Binhong.” In this book Roberts offers insights into what she describes as the “gaping chasm” between the two cultures. Roberts summaries the Chinese artistic outlook—which for the sake of expedience I wish to include the Japanese way of looking—by proposing that Chinese art “places a primacy on the spirit”, and compares this to “modern Western art, which endlessly seeks sensuality and the beauty of abstraction through shape and colour” (p. 44).

Like any brief crystallisation of ideas about culture, there are significant oversights in Roberts' very succinct appraisal of cultural differences, especially when I wish to link these concepts with the cultural differences that Watanabe helped to bridge. Nevertheless, Roberts' idea that the essential cultural difference is between “spirit” and “sensuality” is fascinating to contemplate in terms of these prints. (My apologies to Claire Roberts if I have misinterpreted this aspect of her wonderful book. Sadly, I’m the sort of chap who can watch a movie and on recounting what it was all about finds out that he alone perceived the movie that way … weird!)












Saturday, 19 May 2018

Herman van Swanevelt’s etching, “The Magdalen Repentant”, c.1650


Herman van Swanevelt (aka Herman Swaneveld) (1603–55)

“The Magdalen Repentant” (La Madeleine en penitence) (TIB title) or “Penitent Mary Magdalene in the Wilderness” (Rijksmuseum title), 1643–55, from the series of four plates, “Landscapes with Penitent Saints”, published by André Vanheck with privilege from Louis XIV (King of France).

Etching on laid paper with margins and backed with a support sheet.
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Herman van Swanevelt Inventor fecit”; (right) AParis chez Vanheck / cum privilegio Regis”
Size: (sheet) 27.8 x 36.7 cm; (plate); 25.3 x 32.9 cm; (image borderline) 23.6 x 32.5 cm
State iii? (of iv) with the lettered addition of Vanheck as publisher.

TIB 2.107 (312) (Mark Carter Leach & Peter Morse [eds.] 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol. 2, Abaris Books, New York, p. 311); Hollstein Dutch 12-3 (4); Bartsch 312.

See also the description of this print at the Rijksmuseum:
“Mary Magdalene is lying on a rug in front of a cave. Next to her are a skull and a cross, her attributes. Two musical angels kneel on a cloud above her. The left angel plays a harp and the right angel plays a violin. The surrounding landscape is upholstered with many tree parties.”
(Note: the above description is a Google translation. I decided not to alter the last sentence because it is simply marvellous!)
See also the description of this print in its first state offered by the British Museum:
“The penitent Magdalene in a landscape; reclining in front of a cave in the rockface at left; looking at the cross and skull next to her; two angels playing a harp and violin above her; at right a crooked tree in foreground; the sea in background; from a series of four plates.”

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with small margins (approximately 2cm but smaller at the lower edge) in near faultless condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing). The sheet is backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this large and fascinating etching that delicately merges Mary Magdalene in her state of repentance accompanied by the sound of angels playing musical instruments and a sublime image of wildness in the spirit of Italian classical composition, for the total cost of AU$198 (currently US$148.76/EUR126.36/GBP110.45 at the time of posting this etching) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this this wonderful print, 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


Although the title of this print underlines what ostensibly is the point of this large and very beautiful etching—an illustration of the repentant Magdalene in the wilderness—to my eyes the “real” subject is the wilderness as a sublime vision and the portrayed Magdalene is only a momentarily curious diversion. Not that the choice to give primacy to the Magdalene as the “real” subject should be a surprise. After all, at the time that Swanevelt composed this image, artists were commercially compelled to make their artworks important by use of subject matter of social or religious significance.

Regarding this composition being a celebration of the beauty of landscape and its natural forces, I wish to point out the broken tree shown in the right foreground. This tree is showcased in blaze of light for a very good reason: this regenerating tree is the often employed visual device used by artists in the 17th century to symbolise continuity in the cycle of life. I would love to connect the symbolism of this tree with the scene of the Magdalene in her state of repentance, but I suspect that I might be going too far with my reading of the composition.