Instructional prints from the 1600s that are specifically designed for artists should, but do not always—and I can speak with authority about this—offer insights about art practices that have evolved over the centuries. This is certainly a point that I had to ponder today when I was struggling with my etching press and using all my might to turn the wheel that squished paper onto the etching plate to make a print. (I will show the result in my next post.) I may not have used my leg as well as my arms (as shown in the centre image) to make the wheel turn, but I can confirm that this image is as true a practice in 1645 as it is today. Very little has evolved ... but perhaps when I invest in a press with beautiful gears and an electric motor to make the press turn without effort, I will revise this note.
The image on the right showing an artist copying an image is fascinating. What is not very clear when looking at the print from a distance are the very finely inscribed diagrammatical lines tracing the artist’s points of focus and the “correction” in the angle of the Head of Christ being copied to allow for parallax error. Any artist who decides to use photos on their iPhone as a source of inspiration for drawing will already know the need to angle the phone/photo so that the screen is facing “straight on.” Perhaps more interesting is the artist’s use of a quill-pen as this old style of pen has been laid to rest. No doubt that the birds are very happy about this! From a technical standpoint, note that a quill-pen is made from the flight feathers from the left wing of the goose/swan so that the curve of the pen “fits” and is weighted to a right-handed artist’s hand.
Abraham Bosse (c1604–1676)
Three etchings with engraving from the series of fifty-two plates, “Différentes manières de dessiner et peindre” (Different ways to draw and paint), 1645 (based on the date shown in Roman numerals, “MDCXLV”, on the title plate).
(left) Title plate for the publication
(centre) The printing press
Note that I have previously listed the print on the right (now sold), “Artist Copying a Portrait of Christ” (descriptive title only), which is plate 34 in the series, published in Charles Antoine Jombert's (1712–1784) drawing book, “Nouvelle méthode pour apprendre à dessiner sans maître” (New method to learn to draw without a master) (1736 & 1740). The British Museum offers a description of this print: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_2AA-a-53-31.
Etchings with engraving on laid paper trimmed with narrow margins around the image borderlines.
Size of title plate: (sheet) 14.2 x 9.7 cm; (plate) 13.4 x 8.5 cm.
Lettered in the title plate on the left: “TRAITÉ/ DES MANIERES/ DE GRAVER EN TAILLE/ DOVCE SVR LAIRAIN/ Par le moyen des/ EAVES FORTES/ et des/ VERNIX DVRS ET MOLS/ ENSEMBLE de la Façon d'en/ Imprimer les Planches, et d'en/ Construire la Presse./ Par/ A.BOSSE de la ville de Tours,/ graveur en taille douce./ A PARIS./ M.DC. XLV./ AVEC/ PRIVILEGE DV ROY.”
Numbered and inscribed in the centre plate showing the printing press: (upper edge) “16”; “Le Presse en Perspectiue/ veue par le Costé.” (The Press in Perspective/ side view); “16”.
Blum 403–421 (André Blum 1924, “L'Oeuvre gravé d'Abraham Bosse”); Duplessis 534–552 (Georges Duplessis 1859, “Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Abraham Bosse”); IFF 534-552; see also the brief description of the publication (no image) offered by the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/359219.
Condition: the title plate (on the left) and plate 16 (in the centre) are strong and well-printed impressions, whereas the plate on the right (Artist copying a portrait of Christ) is a dull impression. All three of the prints are in a good condition with no tears, holes, folds, or significant stains and have remnants of old mounting verso.
I am selling this set of historically important etchings from a series of prints offering insights into the studio practices of artists and printmakers in the17th century, for AU$396 in total for the set of three prints (currently US$267.52/EUR243.95/GBP214.19 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 purchasing this interesting set of prints, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This print has been sold