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Wednesday 28 June 2017

Francesco Bartolozzi’s stipple etching, “Lord Vaux”, after Hans Holbein, 1792

Francesco Bartolozzi (1728–1815)
“Lord Vaux”, 1792, after Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8–1543), from the famous series of 86 plates, “Persons of the Court of Henry VII”, published by John Chamberlaine (1745–1812) and printed by William Bulmer (1757–1830).

For details about the book from which this print was extracted, see the description of the copy held by Heritage Book Shop:

Original colour (a la poupée) stipple etching on light pink wove paper, trimmed within the platemark, on watermarked paper.
Size: (sheet) 31 x 30.5 cm; (image borderline) 27 x 28.4 cm
Lettered within the image: (upper left) “The Lord Vaux.”
Lettered below the image borderline: (left) "From the Original Drawing by Hans Holbein”; (centre) "IN HIS MAJESTY’S COLLECTION. / Published as the Act directs by I Chamberlaine March 1792”; (right) "F. Bartolozzi Sculpt”.

Condition: extraordinarily delicate and beautifully printed impression trimmed within the platemark. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, abrasions, stains or foxing), but with light bumps to the lower corners and a pinhole below the beard There are ink stamps featuring a crown and text (verso).

I am selling this museum quality example of colour stipple etching for the total cost of AU$287 (currently US$217.86/EUR191.57/GBP169.85 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this superb print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

According to Gordon Norton Ray (1976) in “The Illustrator and the Book in England from 1790 to 1914”, this print (and the others in the series, “Persons of the Court of Henry VII”) represents a milestone in colour printing and Ray advises that it "is surely the finest early example of English color printing” (p. 20). The technique is intaglio in the sense that the stippled dots on the printing plate are etched but the fascinating part of the process is that the colours are applied with balls of rag (a la poupée—trans. "with a doll") directly onto the printing plate before it is rolled through the press (i.e. the colour is not the result of watercolour washes applied to the print AFTER printing).

Ray (1976) also points out that Holbein's portraits were "drawn with chalk, upon paper stained of a flesh colour” (ibid).  To simulate Holbein’s flesh-coloured paper, Bartolozzi has matched the colour of Holbein’s paper with the colour of the paper chosen for this print. Small details like this reveal Bartolozzo’s dedication to his role as a reproductive printmaker of the highest order.

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