An unrecorded allegory illustrating the glory of Spain during the sixteenth century. Spain is illustrated as a woman seated below a tree upon which hangs the royal crest, and she is holding a scepter and has a crown in her lap. Next to her stands a knight in armor holding a flag of war, a personification of Mars. This figure is explained by the Latin text below the image, which roughly translated states, "I rule as many kingdoms as other spirits rule nations: and although I possess the most, yet I seek more. I even try to add the Sun to the heavenly kingdoms, whither Mars, Art and Prosperity direct me...." The military might of Spain is illustrated by the drum and shield that lie at Mars' feet, as well as by the army shown marching in the middle ground and the ships attacking a castle in the background. The arts and prosperity are symbolized by the musical instruments, scientific instruments, the illustration of commerce, and the goods and bullion which populate the allegory around the central figures. One final aspect of the allegory is the graphic reference to Spain's conquests in the New World, illustrated by a globe showing a map of the western hemisphere in the lower left. The final line of the text also alludes to the Spanish empire in the west, "The Stars led me over the sea to the black Indies, which now I insert among the highest stars." By the late sixteenth century, Spain was the dominate power in Europe, and this allegory wonderfully celebrates her glory. $1,250
I.B.[sic] Nattier after Peter Paul Rubens. "Le Tems decouvre la Verité." [The Triumph of Truth] Paris: early 18th century. 17 5/8 x 8 3/4. Copper engraving by A. Loir. Trimmed within plate mark and laid on heavy paper. Else, very good condition.
French text below the title indicates that it is the painter's intention that the viewer should see that the misunderstanding between Louis XIII and his mother, Marie de Medici, only came about as a result of false counsel. Rubens has illustrated in this painting that Time, personified by an old man, uncovers Truth, represented by a beautiful young woman, during which event the King and the Queen, who had been manipulated by the malice of man, are at last reconciled in heaven. The King and his mother are depicted floating at the top of the painting with a symbol of concordia between them.
The painting, from which the print was made in reverse, was the last of the 21 paintings in the Marie de Medicis Cycle depicting the Queen's struggles, commissioned by Marie de Medici in 1621 for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris; they now hang in the Louvre. Three additional paintings in the series are portraits of the Queen and her parents. $250
Richard Corbould. "Botany." From Encyclopaedia Londinensis or, Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature. London: J. Wilkes, March 1, 1805. Ca. 9 x 7 1/4. Stipple engravings with some line work by J. Chapman. Hand color. With light sticker mark in bottom margin. Otherwise, very good condition.
In the era of Enlightenment, books of knowledge, like Encyclopaedia Londinensis, took on a new importance and nobility in the scope of book publishing. Fine artists like Richard Corbould were employed to draw allegorical prints to embellish the volumes. Exalting the pursuit of knowledge, these allegorical prints draw on neo-Classical vocabulary to confer nobility on the studies of geography, botany, painting, and others. In classically-draped garments, female figures pose amid Roman architecture and artifact, employing the tools of investigation specific to their discipline. This wonderful image contains an allegory of the science of botany. $250
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"See from all Climes the Learn'd Their Incense bring." From The Gentleman's Magazine. London: Edward Cave, 1753. Engraving. 7 x 4 1/4 (image) plus plate marks and margins. With a title page and poem by Mr. Urban on completing his twenty-third volume. Very good condition.
A fascinating allegory making the point that Europeans were gaining in knowledge from their exposure to the rest of the world. The image shows the four continents personified accompanied by putti as they approach the god Mercury. The continents from right to left are Europe, Asia, Africa, and America (as an Indian). The putti hold riches associated with food, geography or lands, languages, fame in the form of a medallion, and on the foreground are a celestial map, a barometer and terrestrial globe. The idealized temple is the home of Mercury the messenger or European Civilization. A charming neoclassical artifact. $175
[Allegory to the Arts in America] Title page. From Delaplaine's Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished American Characters. Philadelphia: Rogers and Esler Printers, 1815-. Line engraving with stipple by Gideon Fairman.
Joseph Delaplaine wanted to publish portraits and biographies of great Americans to counter the current arguments that people and institutions in America were inferior to those in Europe. He included his contemporaries as well as early voyagers to reflect on the strong and adventurous spirits that were involved in the founding of the New World and the American Republic. $90
"L'Enfant Prodigue." Credits read, "Peint par E. Dubufe." and "Grave par Leon Girardet." Steel engraving. 23 x 43 (platemarks) plus margins. Copyrighted by M. Knoedler in Washington, D.C. in 1878. Published by Goupil in Berlin, Paris, London and La Haye and by Knoedler in New York. Expertly repaired tears: three into image and some others. Professionally conserved. Overall impression is strong and lovely.
Benezit cites Edouard-Louis Dubufe's (1820-1883) triptych, oil on canvas as located in New York in 1887. The painting was in the collection of A.T. Stewart. Sale of the painting was no doubt spurred by the appearance of this fine and large engraving based on the painting which was probably done in Paris. See: DeCourcy E. McIntosh"s "New York's Favorite Pictures in the 1870s" in The Magazine Antiques (April, 2004) illus. p. 118.
The central panel shows the prodigal son drinking, wenching and gambling, while the left panel shows him among the swine (of a different sort) and the right panel welcomed back by his forgiving father. The popularity of pictures from Europe, especially from Paris, was the most popular in New York. Sales were greater than for those of other countries--even works by American artists. $800
"Life and Age of Man / Life and Age of Woman." Chicago: George Cram, 415-417 Dearborn Street, ca. 1885-1890. 28 3/4 x 24. Chromolithograph. Lightly varnished; mounted on varnished maple rollers. Very good condition.
With up-to-date costumes and timely hairdos, the timeless subject of life's cycle appears in George Cram's "Life and Age of Man / Life and Age of Woman." Widespread since the advent of the printing press, visual reminders of life's fragility were especially popular with Victorian Protestants, a largely Anglo, Calvinist group whose beliefs centered on God's sovereignty and man's weakness. Through mourning jewelry and post-mortem portraits, they expressed both awareness of human mortality and belief in eternal life. Like the portraits, the "Life and Age of Man . . ." print could be framed to decorate a parlor or bedroom wall; on rollers (as seen here), it might serve as a teaching tool for a classroom or Sunday School.
Cram's "Life and Age of Man . . ." is identical in composition to those published by firms like Currier & Ives earlier in the nineteenth century (which likewise drew on European precedents) -- only time-sensitive details changed. Military uniforms, ladies' hairdos, and costume silhouettes were altered to appeal to the style-conscious middle class, who would have been the likely viewers/consumers of a fashionable reminder of an eternal theme. A very scarce interpretation of one of the most popular themes in Western print culture. $950
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