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.
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26 rubbings from engraved woodblocks of the heads of Kings and Queens and England, apparently never published in this form.
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).
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IN MEMORY OF HIS DAUGHTERS LA SERRIE, François-Joseph de.
Dithyrambes, ou petites élégies; dédiées à Madame Le Pédour, Annette-Sergent Pain (de Rochefort); par M. de La Serrie (de la Vendée); avec cinq sujets dessinés et gravés soigneusement de sa main.
Very rare first edition of this collection of twenty-one elegies composed by the writer, artist and engraver François-Joseph de La Serrie (1770-1819), largely inspired by the deaths of his two daughters Marie Louise Aspasie, who died aged 15 in 1812, and Marie Rosalie-Cecile Virginie, who passed away three years later at the age of 23. The occasionally moving verse – in élégie XV the author struggles to explain his daughter’s death to his grandson – dwells on the themes of death, sorrow, hope, friendship, prayer and faith. The handsome accompanying plates, also by the author, depict Mary and the infant Jesus, his daughters’ tombs, St Cecilia, and St Similien of Nantes. The notes at the end include interesting passages on ancient libraries and on printers, including praise for the Didot family.
La Serrie’s works – which range across literature, philosophy and art, and include a life of Mary, Queen of Scots – were carefully printed in small numbers and distributed to his friends. This copy was presented by the author to a Madame Gillet.
Only one copy traced on OCLC, at the BnF. Not in Quérard.
[BEER, Johann Christoph.]
Kurtzer Entwurff dess Lebens der Könige in Engelland von der Zeit an als die Sachsen und Angeln sich derselben Insul bemächtiget biss auf die jetzige Regierung. Mit schönen Kupffer-Figuren und Conterfäiten der Könige gezieret.
Second, corrected and improved, edition (first 1671) of this attractive German survey of English kings and queens. After describing the rulers in the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England (Wessex, Sussex, Essex, Kent, East Anglia, Northumbria, and Mercia), Beer discusses the kings from Egbert to Harold II before devoting the remainder of his work to monarchs from William the Conqueror to Charles II, who are depicted on the accompanying plates together with their escutcheons and the dates of their reigns. Important epithets are given, such as ‘Bellus Clericus’ (Beauclerc) for Henry I, and ‘Cor Leonis’ (Lionheart) for Richard I, shown with a lion at his feet and a bolt in his shoulder. Beer (1638-1712) was something of an expert on European monarchs, also publishing works on the rulers of Austria, Hungary, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden.
BL German 1601-1700, B613; VD17 23:312763A. COPAC shows copies at the British Library and Oxford only.