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Tuesday 21 August 2018

Jakob Felsing’s engraving, “George Washington”, 1824

Georg Jakob Felsing (1802–1883)

“George Washington” (aka “Georgius Washington” as titled on plate in the published edition), 1824, after Giuseppe Longhi (1766–1831), published in Paris by Tessari & Cie.
(Note that the above information is based on the description of this print held by the Rijksmuseum and that Arader Galleries advise that the print was published in 1817 in Padua:  

Engraving and etching on heavy wove paper with full margins (as published).
Size: (sheet) 47 x 31.1 cm; (plate) 27 x 19.5 cm; (image borderline) 7.8 x 12.9 cm
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “G. Longhi dis.”; (right) “G. G. Felsing inc.”
Proof impression before the addition of the publisher’s address and title (see a final state impression held by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts:

Apell 32 (Aloys Apell 1880, “Handbuch für Kupferstichsammler oder Lexicon der vorzüglichsten Kupferstecher des 19. Jahrhunderts, welche in Linienmanier gearbeitet haben sowie Beschreibung ihrer besten und gesuchtesten Blätter” [transl. “Handbook for copper engraving or Lexicon of the most excellent engraver of the 19th century who have worked in line style as well as description of their best and most sought after leaves”], Leipzig, p. 144, 32); Andresen 1 (Andreas Andresen 1870–73, “Handbuch für Kupferstichsammler oder Lexicon der Kupferstecher, Maler-Radirer und Formschneider aller Länder und Schulen... auf Grundlage von Heller's pract. Handbuch für Kupferstichsammler / neu bearbeitet von Andreas Andresen”, p. 481, 1).

See also the description of this print at the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: crisp and richly inked faultless impression with full margins in excellent/museum-quality condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, foxing, signs of handling or significant stains—but there is pale yellowing to the outer edge of the sheet on the right). There is a dry-stamped collector’s oval seal within the platemark at lower left corner (blind lettered/embossed): “LOUIS ROCCA IIN LEIPZIG”

I am selling this historically important and superb engraving of the first president of the United States, George Washington, for AU$172 in total (currently US$126.61/EUR109.83/GBP98.63 at the time of posting 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 purchasing this jewel-like masterpiece of engraving, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

There are so many visual devices employed in this stunning engraving that I have decided to limit myself to just three.

The first is the use of the visual device developed by Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617): the dotted lozenge. This device may be described as a dot is inserted into the centre of the spaces left between cross-hatched lines as employed in the modelling around George Washington’s eyes. By design, the dots—more like tiny dashes in Felsing’s engraving—allow for smooth transitions between light and shade.

The second device is the subtle phrasing of tones in the background so that the background on the lit side of Washington’s face—the left of the composition—is the slightest touch darker than the background on his shadow side—the right of the composition. By making these gentle tonal transitions the artist creates the illusion that the figure is in believable three-dimensional space. Note also with regard to the background toning that the artist has also employed just a tiny bit of darkness near Washington’s shoulders to subliminally hint at his weight.

Finally, the third device that I thought I should draw attention to is the one that Rembrandt is famous for: the dot of light on the end of the subject’s nose. This tiny touch of white—the untouched paper—helps to give the nose “projection.” Perhaps I should also point out the subtle adjustments to the varying degrees of light illuminating Washington’s shirt ruffles. What I especially like about this subtle adjustment of tones is the tiny accent of white on the ruffle at the bottom of the image. Amazing what a difference such a little touch can have!

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