An Attractive c.1780 Neo-Classical Gilt & Gesso Pier Mirror With Bartolozzi Mezzotint Under Glass

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Origin: English
Period: George III
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1780-95
Height: 41.75 inches
Width: 19.75 inches (at extremities)

The late Georgian period pier mirror of giltwood and gesso and of Neo-classical form having an inverted breakfront moulded cornice above a stipple engraving mezzotint showing horses, three maidens and two cavaliers beneath a tower, marked for Francesco Bartolozzi RA after Hamilton under glass, above a rectangular plate, flanked by architectural fluted pilaster columns.

The mirror is in slightly tired but very attractive condition. It came to us with layers of paint over the gilt and we have had it scraped back to the original finish. The plate glass is nineteenth or early twentieth century and the glass has a very small amount of foxing. The frame has areas of small wear and loss as seen in the photographs but the mirror has not be restored and thus remains true to its original condition and is ready and able to be hung and admired. The mezzotint is in good order with the colours still quite strong and this helps to cement the date of the mirror rather nicely to essentially a 20 year period, or the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

A pier glass is a mirror which is placed on a pier, i.e. a wall between two windows supporting an upper structure. It is therefore generally of a long and tall shape to fit the space. It may be as a hanging mirror or as mirrored glass affixed flush to the pier, in which case it is sometimes of the same shape and design as the windows themselves. This was a common decorating feature in the reception rooms of classical 18th century houses.

Francesco Bartolozzi RA (Florence, 21 September 1727 – 7 March 1815, Lisbon) was an Italian engraver, whose most productive period was spent in London. He is one of the most famous and sought after Engravers of the 18th Century. He was not only an engraver and etcher, but also an accomplished painter. Born in Florence, 1727; died in Lisbon, 1815. His father was a goldsmith of excellent family and early on taught the use of the burin to his boy who, when he was ten years of age, engraved two heads which showed the promise of his talent. In the Florentine Academy he learnt to work in oil, chalks, and aquarelle. Unsurpassed by any artist of his day in his knowledge of anatomy, and with a passion for the antique, young Bartolozzi became a master in depicting beauty of expression, movement, and form. From 1745 until 1751 he studied with Wagner, the Venetian historical engraver. This apprenticeship ended, he married Lucia Ferro and the young pair, on Cardinal Bottari's invitation went to Rome. Returning to Venice, his fame grew very rapidly, and in 1764, Dalton, King George III's librarian, took him to England, where he was appointed Engraver to the King, and, for years later, Royal Academician. In London he engraved over two thousand plates, nearly all in the stipple or the "red-chalk style", a method recently invented by the French, but brought into vogue and elevated into a distinct art by Bartolozzi. He devoted himself to the human figure, and his engravings abound in sweet and tender types of beauty, graceful in form and outline. As with these Engravings, after Cipriani, Bartolozzi found delicate modulations of light and shade with a roundness, finish, and suggestion of flesh never before seen in engraved work. Bartolozzi's drawing was superb; and although he was a reproductive artist he improved the work he copied, especially the drawing, even Sir Joshua Reynolds thanking him for such a service. His pupils called him the "god of drawing". His splendid line work was obscured by the great popularity attained by his stippled prints, and his few etchings show a free, bold, and unfettered sweep of line. In 1802 Bartolozzi went to Lisbon, where he was knighted, and where he worked and taught until his death. He was buried in the church of Saint Isabella.

A fine quality mirror of good size featuring an artwork with value in its own right. Neo-classicism in its pomp.

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