Thursday, 23 February 2012

Mezzotints & Engravings after J.M.W.Turner

 Catalogue of  Mezzotints & Engravings after J.M.W.Turner

 Though much has been written on the painting of J.M.W Turner, the contribution of the artist towards prints after his work is rarely discussed. This is perhaps because they were executed, for the most part, by other engravers. Inquisitively minded, and experimental in his approach, it was all but inevitable that Turner should engage himself in the printmaking process.

Turner’s involvement with prints began at a young age. As a ten year old, Turner was employed in hand-colouring engravings for Henry Boswell’s Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of England and Wales. Whilst at the Academy schools, it is known that he copied an etching ground recipe onto the verso of a study. A few years later, and at the age of eighteen, Turner’s work was first reproduced. The commissioned piece was a scene of Rochester. Engraved by John Walker and John Storer, the topographical view was published in the Copper-plate Magazine in 1794. Turner enlisted to paint Rochester again in 1823 (See catalogue no. 11). On this occasion, William Bernard Cooke published the work whilst Thomas Lupton was the man who replicated the spires of the cathedral and the swell of the Medway. Similar compositionally to the 1794 work, these two views of the Kentish town illustrate the scope of Turner’s prints. Whilst the earlier print is somewhat trite, Lupton’s edition displays comparatively rich and luminous modulations. Nearly thirty years elapse between the publication of the prints, and during this period Turner’s painterly style certainly matured. However, the growing instruction and supervision that Turner placed in his engravers is perhaps most accountable for this shift in quality. The marked inferiority of the renderings of Turner’s work by the same engravers, after the death of the artist, bears witness to this notion.
In the first few decades of the nineteenth-century, Turner amassed a group of mezzotinters and line-engravers to whom he would repeatedly turn. The engravers, whilst able to display their distinct aesthetic personalities, were also attuned to the requirements of Turner. The artist’s wants were at times exacting. He would frequently annotate proof impressions with a salvo of amendments, instructions, comments and diagrams. In fact, when working upon his Liber Studiorum (1806-1819), Turner is known to have etched preliminary designs into the plates himself. A touched proof of More Park, near Watford, on the River Colne (Catalogue no. 3) at Yale University pays testament to Turner’s role as director. A keen overseer and master of technical details, Turner included a barrage of plaudits and revisions in a message to his namesake Charles. Be it for the gift book or the sketching tour, the artist learned how to select colours and tones in paint to provide the basis for transcription into black and white.

The accomplished result of Turner’s prints was largely due to the artist’s management of the proof stage. Thus, it was not only his painterly skill and fame that created demand amongst publishers for his contributions, but also his ability to inspire and instruct engravers. This can be seen in his collaboration with Cooke for The Rivers of England, whereby Turner not only provided sixteen watercolours, but was paid an additional fee of two guineas for touching the proofs of the plates after Thomas Girtin.

Turner’s work provided a nomadic span of English, and after the war, European topography. The notion of departure, however, could also be seen in his fiscal deaings. The artist adopted a new system whereby he retained copyright as well as the original drawings, thus loaning watercolurs to publishers and recalling them after the engraving process. This act ensured that the publishers were prevented from selling the preliminary works at inflated prices or compromising the original prints with cheap reproductions.  It is also interesting to note that none if his late paintings were engraved in his lifetime, although many people saw them at the Academy. It is as if he kept two artistic personae, ‘the illustrator’ and ‘the experimenter’.

This catalogue brings together an important selection of prints after Turner. From Oxford to Okehampton, it is a brief survey which includes the work of numerous engravers and publishers. A neglected area of his opus, this release acts as a testament to an artist seldom credited for the outstanding achievements of British engraving between the decades of 1820 and 1860. 

George Richards


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Print du Jour

This delightful fish print forms part of our ever expanding collection of natural history prints. 

Plate 4 [Tetrodon Stellatus, Stellated Globe Diodon] 
Edward Donovan
Copper engraving with original hand colouring
Image 162 x 88 mm, Plate 199 x 115 mm, Sheet 239 x 141 mm
Edward Donovan (1768 – 1837) was a traveler and amateur naturalist. Born in Cork, Ireland, Donovan was the founder of the London Museum and Institute of Natural History, which contained his extensive natural history collection. He was also a Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Wernerian Natural History Society. This engraving is from Donovan’s Natural History of British Fishes. Various volumes were published between 1802–08. The startling colour is original, and is the result of gum arabic and varnish heightening. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

New stock release

This February Sanders are pleased to announce the release of an intriguing collection of new acquisitions. Over the past few months we have been busy collating a selection of fine and decorative prints and maps spanning a diverse range of subjects, engravers and prices.

The selection includes early portraits, natural history, topographical prints and maps, alongside mezzotints from the collection of Hon. Christopher Lennox-Boyd.

Whether you are a specialist or a generalist we hope that our current catalogue of rare and unusual material offers something of interest.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

New stock from the Oxford Printmakers Cooperative

This vibrant poppy field by Jane Walker forms part of our recent aquisition of contemporary prints from the Oxford Printmakers Cooperative.

You can browse our website or pop into the shop to view our whole collection of contemporary prints.

Jane Walker
Image 297 x 275 mm
Signed and inscribed in pencil.
Edition 1/12

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Will you be my Valentine?

Happy Valentine's day!  For all of you romantics out there there is still time to get something special for your someone special.

We have a fantastic collection of original Edwardian and Victorian Valentines cards. Pop down to the shop to view our selection of nineteenth century Valentine cards, from the sentimental to the comic.

Valentine's Day is a holiday with a long history. Though it bears a saint's name, its origins seem more firmly rooted in pagan celebrations of the beginning of spring than in the history of its martyred namesakes. Valentine's Day traditions are wide-ranging, but have long involved the exchange of some love token or small gift with one's valentine. In 18th century England and North America, these exchanges often took the form of hand-made valentine cards. By the 19th century, these traditions expanded. Home-made cards were widely replaced by commercially produced valentine cards, and the cards were sent not only to one special valentine, but often to a wider circle of friends and relations. For more information on this history of the Valentine card visit this fantastic site by the University of Indiana.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Japanese "Pillar" Prints

"Pillar prints", such as Yoshimoto Gesso's Dragon featured here, are a great example of the unusual and affordable Japanese art we have in our collection. Designed to harmonise with traditional Japanese architecture, the long, narrow form provides a refresing break from the more traditional oblong.

Yoshimoto Gesso (1881 - 1936)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e)
c. 1910
Tanzaku [3 x 13.75 inches]
Vertical, narrow prints are a by-product of traditional Japanese architecture, which offered very few solid wall surfaces. Many times, the only solid surface available for the hanging of pictures, were the structural posts which held up the roof. ""Pillar prints"" became a genre unto themselves and were referred to in Japanese as hashira-e or tanzaku.

The design of pleasing compositions within such a constrained format is a serious challenge for the artist. Yoshimoto Gesso and Shoda Koho, the artists who designed the prints in this series, have certainly risen to this challenge and produced a wide variety of wonderful designs.

This series was listed simply as 1 line item in the Hasegawa / Nishinomiya catalogue. The implication is that there were 96 separate images available. They were sold as sets of 12 prints.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

New Acquisitions

We are currently processing a number of exciting new acquisitions such as this wonderfully elaborate celestial map by Georg Matthaus Seutter.

Planispherium Coeleste
Copper engraved with original hand colour
Augsburg, 1730
500 x 580 mm

Magnificent double hemisphere celestial chart showing the northern and southern sky with constellations in allegorical form derived from Hevelius.
A diagram in the upper left corner represents day and night on the earth with quotations from Genesis. The diagram at upper right shows the monthly orbit and illumination of the moon.

The five diagrams along the bottom represent the monthly orbit and illumination of the moon, and the planetary hypothesis of Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Ptolemy, and the annual orbit of the sun and the seasons.

Ref: Warner, The Sky Explored, page 245,1.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

In- Oxford Review

 Sanders of Oxford

As you walk in across the old and creaking wooden floor there is a sense of satisfaction as you realise this is a shop from yesteryear where the assistants are well informed and courteous.

It is a welcoming atmosphere where one can browse for a long time without feeling self-conscious. The space itself is as inspiring as the stock, with the hallmark idiosyncratic proportions one might expect of a 16th century building.

There is a sense of calm and almost timelessness as one is continuously delighted to discover the fascinating wealth of maps, prints and photographs of a very fine and sophisticated quality.

Sanders is one of the largest print sellers in Britain, and features a varied and wide-ranging stock of more than, a staggering 30,000 items. Established in the middle of the 19th century, Sanders' range of prints and maps is rather impressive varying from British Topography to Mythological, Mezzotint Portraits, Topographical, Decorative, Sporting, Caricatures, Maritime, Military, Natural History, Literary and Fine Art prints. If you happen to know Oxford very well as I do, you will be delighted and fascinated by their range of beautiful Oxford prints.

Interestingly Sanders one of only four antique print sellers outside London, and proudly the only place outside London to offer a good selection of 18th, 19th and early 20th century Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints (japanese prints) and book illustrations. Another unique aspect of sanders is the healthy peppering of original contemporary prints in the form of lino cut, aquatint, etching which represents oxford outstanding professional artists society, ‘the oxford printmakers co operative’.

Reviewed by Kieran Stiles for In-Oxford