“Your print has been Schweidlerized” Tuesday, Mar 17 2009 

Max Schweidler - The Restoration of Engravings, Drawings etc.

Picture yourself having just acquired an old master print (say, a Rembrandt etching) at an auction. The print is in a exceptional good state, and you bought it at a reasonable price (“reasonable” meaning in reasonable relation to the size of your wallet, of course). After the auction, this well known old print conaisseur which you watched lingering around the specimens shown at the pre-sale exhibition approaches you and tells you with that calm voice expressing a life full of old master print expertise: “Madam/Sir, I have to to tell you: your print has been Schweidlerized“.

Schweidlerized? What does he mean?

  1. The print is a fake (“swindle”)
  2. The print has been skillfully repaired, virtually invisible to the eye, or
  3. The print was sold (at an auction etc.) at a much higher price than what it is actually worth.

Read on for the solution and the rediscovery of a tremendously valuable book.


A controversial engraving as an early version of a picture story Friday, Nov 28 2008 

A detail from a 17th century engraving shows English businessmen John Guy meeting Beothuk in Trinity Bay

A detail from a 17th century engraving shows English businessmen John Guy meeting Beothuk in Trinity Bay

An interesting dispute about a copperplate engraving published in 1628 depicting merchants from the Old World trading with Native Americans seems to be settled for now. Canadian archaeologist William Gilbert challenges the traditional interpretation of the scene taking place in New England, but rather interprets it as an early encounter of the English merchant John Guy with Beothuk Indians in Newfoundland, thus making it a part of early Canadian history.


A mysterious inscription Friday, May 18 2007 

On the reverse of the engraving and etching “Silence” by French engraver Laurent Cars (1699-1771) after the painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), a handwritten inscription was found. The only thing I found out so far was that it is in French, and that it starts with “Cette epreuve…” (“This proof…”). If anybody is able to provide a transcription, I would very appreciate it.

Click on the picture below too see a full-sized version of the inscription.


Laurent Cars after Jean-Baptiste Greuze: Silence!

Laurent Cars after Jean-Baptise Greuze: Silence!

Highest auction price ever for an engraving Monday, May 14 2007 

Rembrandt - St. Jerome Reading in an Italian LandscapeSpiraling prices for Old Master paintings and drawings are common in todays auction market. Take for example the over eight million British pounds paid for the study of The Risen Christ by Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), sold at Christie’s in 2000.

I was wondering what the highest price ever paid for an Old Master Print (engraving or etching) might be, and came across a news article from the New York Times edition of November, 1983:

A first state engraving (or etching, dry point and engraving, to be precise) of “St. Jerome Reading in an Italian Landscape” by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was sold at Christie’s in 1983 for $181’500. This was the highest price for a print ever fetched at an auction, surpassing even the previous record held by Picasso’s “Minotauromachie”, sold in 1981 at Christie’s as well.The engraving was bought by David Tunick, a New York based art dealer specialising in Old Master and Modern Prints.

Now i’m wondering whether this still holds true. If not, who might be the new top selling Old Master etcher/engraver? I’d bet on Rembrandt, Dürer or Mantegna…


New York Times: Rembrandt Engraving Brings Record $181,500.-

“St. Jerome Reading in an Italian landscape” at the University of Michigan Art Museum

La bonne mère – The “good” mother Thursday, Apr 26 2007 

Note: This started as a reply to a comment of an earlier post ; since one can’t easily add formatting, pictures etc. in a comment, i decided to publish it in form of a post.

Fragonard - La bonne mèreNicolas (1739-1792) and his brother Robert (1754-1854) Delaunay (sometimes also referred to as De Launay) were both active as engravers/etchers in Paris. Nicolas, pupil of Louis-Simon Lempereur (1728-1808) and later entitled to Graveur du Roi (“Royal Engraver” of Louix XV), was one of the contributors of engravings to the 1773-83 edition of J. J. Rousseau’s Oeuvre Complètes (Complete Works) after designs of Jean Michel Moreau (also called Moreau le Jeune).

One of Nicolas Delaunays most popular compositions after Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) is Les hasards heureux de l’escarpolette (“The Happy Accidents of a Child’s Swing“). Artheque cites also La bonne mère as one of his “big” compositions.


Galileo Galilei’s forgotten lunar Sketches identified Friday, Mar 30 2007 

Sidereus Nuncius (source: Wikipedia)

Update: Skyweek rightly pointed out that the sketches are elaborate fakes. An ebook depicting the story will be released this month.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is generally credited to be the first scientist to use an optical telescope for astronomical purposes. In 1609, he made his first own “telescopium” and pointed it to the starry nocturnal sky. Thus, he not only discovered four Jupiter moons but also made an important discovery about our own lunar companion: the moon has a jagged surface and is not a smooth spehere. He presented his findings one year later in his famous book Sidereus Nuncius (“Starry Messenger”), illustrated with various copper engravings. Over 500 copies of the book were printed. It was assumed that the original watercolor paintings of the moon, which served as the original for the engravings, were those preserved in the National Library in Florence, Italy. When scientists from Berlin and Padova now compared these drawings with the engravings, it was clear that they differed in many details. They could not be the original drawings used for the engraved illustrations. (more…)

Mathieu or Maurice Blot? Wednesday, Sep 20 2006 

A short postscriptum to our last post: we referred to the French engraver of the print after van Mieris as “Mathieu Blot“, as the inscription in the lower right corner of the engraving suggests:

Mathieu Blot

Now, in the literature we can’t find an engraver named Mathieu Blot, he is always referred to as Maurice Blot.


As time goes by Monday, Sep 18 2006 

A boy blowing bubbles - Mathieu Blot after Frans van MierisAt first sight, this lovely, rather small (18 x 23.5 cm) engraving just depicts a Genre scene of a boy blowing soap bubbles, with his mother standing smiling behind him. Let us explore why there may be something else luring behind than just a scene from an untroubled childhood.