Monday, 10 December 2018
Nicolo Billy’s engraving, “Statue of Bacchus in a landscape with devotional offerings”, c1762
Nicolo Billy (aka Nicolaus Billy) (fl.1762–early 1800s)
“Statue of Bacchus in a landscape with devotional offerings” (descriptive title only), c 1762, after the design by Giovanni Elia Morghen (1721–1789), after an ancient Roman fresco excavated at Herculaneum, plate 28 (“Tavola XXVIII”) illustration to “Le pitture antiche d'Ercolano e contorni incise con qualche spiegazione”, 1762, vol. 3, Regia Stamperia, Naples, p. 191.
Note: this publication may be viewed online or download free-of-charge at archive.org:
Somewhat surprising regarding Nicolo Billy’s skill showcased in this amazing engraving, the famous 18th century commentator on culture (viz. dress, sports, pastimes and habits) and biographer of early engravers—as well as being an engraver himself—Joseph Strutt (1749–1802) in “A Biographical Dictionary” (1785) offers the following shocking personal critical assessment:
“His works [Nicolo Billy’s] are … by no means excellent. He appears to me [Strutt] to have chiefly executed his plates with the graver, in a stiff style, without much taste.” (p. 93).
Heavens to Betsy! Strutt clearly didn’t see this sensitively executed engraving!
Etching and engraving on laid paper with margins and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 42.4 x 31.3 cm; (plate) 34.8 x 25.2 cm; (outer image borderline) 33.1 x 24.5 cm
Inscribed on plate above the image borderline: (right) “Pag.191.”
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Gio: Morg: Reg: dis.”; (centre) “due Palmi Napoletani / e due Palmi Romani”; (right) “Nico: Billy: Reg Sculp”.
Condition: richly inked, crisp and early impression (based on the guide lines for the lettered text being still evident), backed on support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing) but there are light pencil notations in the margins at the upper right corner and there are faded ink written notes by an old hand below the image borderline.
I am selling this exquisitely delicate engraving (with etching) reproducing an ancient Roman fresco buried for centuries following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, for AU$162 (currently US$116.87/EUR102.20/GBP91.79 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 with surreal imagery executed at the time when the great Piranesi was etching his very different prints of Roman ruins and antiquities, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.