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…

Links:

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.

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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…)

The Crazy Sheep Project has come true Wednesday, Mar 14 2007 

Two years ago, Michael Drout over at his Wormtalk and Slugspeak blog got all excited with the idea to extract DNA from old parchment. Nicknamed the “Crazy Sheep DNA Guy” at this time, his dream has now come true, at least to a certain extent.

ParchmakerParchment is made of animal skin, mostly from goat and sheep, which has been dried and scraped under tension. It was the preferred writing support material for manuscripts and maps from around 200 BC until the 16th century, when it was replaced by paper. In the late Middle Ages, town parchment makers (“parchmenters”) had shops in the vicinity of artisans and trade groups. The picture to the left shows a German parchmenter around 1568 [1].

Parchment was much more expensive than paper, and as such still used later on for high-grade books and prints, notably by etchers in th 17th century (and here we have the link to Oldprints).

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The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ImageBase Thursday, Oct 5 2006 

Johan George Wille - L’observateur distraitOnce in a while, we would like to point to some outstanding examples of online galleries, which consist of more than just some selected reproductions of famous prints, but which offer some added value

This time, it is the ImageBase of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Not only does it contain engravings and etchings of almost all the old masters, it also allows to browse through the extensive collection of 85’000 images (not only prints, to be honest). It is an example of a well considered and simple, but neatly designed presentation of the images.

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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.

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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.

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Google Book Search: A treasure trove for the print connaisseur Friday, Sep 15 2006 

Title page of Watelet - Dictionnaire des arts de peinture, sculpture et gravure (1792)You always would have loved to own a copy of Le peintre graveur (1818) by Adam Bartsch or the Dictionnaire des arts de peinture, sculpture et gravure by Claude-Henri Watelet (1792)? What about a PDF version of Notices of engravers and their works, the commencement of a dictionary which it is not intended to continue (what a lovely title!) by William Young Ottley (1831)? Now you can download scanned versions of these treasures for free, thanks to the Google Book Search project.
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