UNIQUE?

26 rubbings from engraved woodblocks of the heads of Kings and Queens and England, apparently never published in this form.

[1790-1805?]

Engraved surfaces c. 50 × 60 mm, leaves c. 95-105 × 105-130 mm, laid paper, no watermarks; with a later leaf of similar size inscribed ‘26. Kings of England not all in their proper order / J[ane] Bewick’, with the later notes ‘Jupp Collection 1878’ and ‘Unique Set / Burnished from the Blocks not printed / E. P.’; all at one time affixed with a pin in the upper left corner, now loose.

£750

Approximately:
US $917€829

Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
26 rubbings from engraved woodblocks of the heads of Kings and Queens and England, apparently never published in this form.

Checkout now

26 apparently unrecorded wood-engravings – heads of the monarchs of England from William the Conqueror to George III – these images taken by rubbing from the blocks rather than printing. The engravings bear strong similarity to the 26 which appear in An Abridgement of the History of England … by Dr. Goldsmith … with Heads by Bewick (London, 1803), of which Thomas Bewick apparently bought a copy on 20 April of that year: his account book records a ‘Parcel / Goldsmith Hisy Engd / Grafton Piccy 4s d.’ (A Provisional Checklist of the Library of Thomas Bewick, by David Gardner-Medwin, item 1, online).

Though Hugo attributes the cuts in the Goldsmith Abridgement to Thomas Bewick, other bibliographers have been less certain. The 26 heads, plus several more (Stephen, Cromwell etc.), had earlier appeared in Characters of the Kings and Queens of England (Newbery, 1795), also with a title-page attribution to ‘T. Bewick of Newcastle’; but ‘The statement on TP that the “Heads” are by T. Bewick cannot be accepted. One hesitates to attribute them to his brother John, even to his workshop’ (Roscoe). The subject matter is more in the realm of John, who had produced 36 heads for a Sketch of Universal History (1789, Tattersfield JB57) and another series of 32 for A Compendious History of England (1794, JB11).

The images in the present set, ‘burnished from the blocks’, are larger and finer than those of 1795/1803, and are in an unbordered oblong format rather than in oval cartouches. The heads for Henry I, Henry II, Henry V, Edward IV, Edward VI, Elizabeth, Charles II, James II, and Anne are reversed (i.e. when actually pulled from the blocks they would be correct), while those for Richard I, Mary, and George III are different images entirely. Richard I and Henry VIII have splits in the block; Edward I is perhaps by an inferior hand. It is however unclear whether they precede the 1795 set (the presence of some details of dress not in the latter set might suggest this), or derive from them (perhaps as a workshop exercise?).

The Bewick collection of Edward Basil Jupp was sold at Christie’s on 25-7 February 1878, containing engravings, drawings and original woodblocks. Though the present set was not mentioned by name, lot 300 was a scrapbook of 420 engravings including ‘Heads of the Kings of England’ (sold for £2 10s. to Swinburne) and perhaps included them. ‘Most of these Wood Engravings were purchased of Miss Jane Bewick by the late Mr. Jupp’; the present set, with its approbation in Jane’s hand, presumably has the same origin. Jane, Thomas’s daughter, dealt with much of Bewick’s business affairs, was his literary executor, as well as the editor of his Memoirs, and along with her sisters, kept guard over a hoard of ‘woodblocks, drawings, proofs and tools … in the house at Gateshead’ (Uglow, Nature’s Engraver).

You may also be interested in...

DEVOTIONAL EMBLEM BOOK WITH RUBENS TITLE-PAGE HAEFTEN, Benedictus van.

Regia via crucis.

First edition of an important counter-reformation devotional emblem book, with a title-page designed by Peter Paul Rubens. Haeften (1588-1648) was provost of the Benedictine abbey of Affligem, Belgium, and played an important role in the reform of the Benedictine order. The Regia via crucis was his most important work, running to over 40 editions, including translations into Dutch, French, Spanish and other languages. The work was intended ‘to provide the (Catholic) reader with a good understanding of the significance of the Stations of the Cross, to inspire imitation of Christ’s example, and thereby to become acquainted with the way to the Kingdom of God. The rather abstract spiritual journey that the human soul had to make towards this goal is made more concrete by the ... selection of such principal figures as the Virgins Anima – the personification of the human soul – and Staurophila – a Greek name that literally means the one who adores the cross. Their experiences in the imitation of Christ and the resulting lessons of life were nothing else but allegorical examples that were to lead every reader to the just and good. The engraved illustrations are very important in this regard as they support the meaning of the text in a simple and clear emblematic manner.’ (The illustration of books published by the Moretuses p. 118-9).

Read more

LAOCOON ENGRAVED REZZONICO, Carlo Castone della Torre di.

Discorsi accademici del conte … segretario perpetuo della R. Accademia delle Belle Arti. 

First and only edition of an exquisite little product of the Bodoni house: Count Rezzonico’s reflections on the fine arts, including a dissertation on the techniques of woodcut and engraving.  The Neo-Classical aesthetics that inform this work are reflected in the illustrations, masterfully executed by the painter, engraver and stucco artist Benigno Bossi.  Perhaps the most remarkable is the depiction of the marble Laocoon, which had been made by Lessing the symbol of the aesthetic autonomy of poetry and painting.

Read more