Sunday, 19 August 2018

Filippo Morghen’s engraving, “Fishermen at Herculaneum Harbour”, c1757

Filippo Morghen (1730­–1807)

“Fishermen at Herculaneum Harbour” (descriptive title only), c1757, after an ancient Roman fresco excavated at Herculaneum, illustration to “Raccolta di Pitture d'Ercolano” (“Collection of paintings of Ercolano”), 1757, designed by Giovanni Elia Morghen (1721–1789).

Etching and engraving on laid paperwith full margins as published.
Size: (sheet) 44 x 31.2 cm; (plate) 34.8 x 25.1 cm; (outer image borderline) 32.5 x 23.4 cm
Numbered on plate above the image borderline: (right) “Pag. 273.”
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Gio. Morg.Reg. del.”; (centre) “Palmi 4 Napoletani / e Palmi 4 Romani”; (right) “Filip. Morg. Reg. Inci.”

Condition: richly inked and faultlessly printed impression, backed on support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in near pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, foxing or significant signs of handling) but there are a few minor dot stains.

I am selling this sumptuously rich velvet-like engraving (with etching) reproducing an ancient Roman fresco buried for centuries following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, for AU$162 (currently US$118.60/EUR103.58/GBP93.04 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in acquiring this extraordinary engraving executed a the time when the great Piranesi was etching his very different prints of Roman ruins and antiquities, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This velvety looking engraving reproduces an ancient Roman fresco that was unearthed in the early 1700s from the ancient site of Herculaneum buried since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Interest in the frescoes and other antiquities from Herculaneum was spiked by the initial discovery of the site—beneath the town of Ercolano—in 1710. Excitement leading to the publication of the grand scale book in which this print features, "Raccolta di Pitture d'Ercolano” (published 1757), however, was driven by the scientific (or at least systematic) excavation of Herculaneum begun in 1738 by the king of Naples, Carl von Bourbon.

Regarding the curious scale lines inscribed below the image and dividing the text, “Palmi 4 Napoletani / e Palmi 4 Romani”, I understand that this is an ancient Italian system of measurement relying on the average size of “Palmi” (transl. “Palms”) of Neapolitans and Romans. From what I can see looking at this scale, the folk from Naples have bigger hands than their mates in Rome!  Nevertheless, I must hasten to add that the hands of the portrayed fisherman are smaller than their faces and so ancient Neapolitans must have been “short changed” in this department.