RICHARD EARLOM (1743-1822) AFTER JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY (1734-1797)
Property from the collection of the late Hon. Christopher Lennox-Boyd
RICHARD EARLOM (1743-1822) AFTER JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY (1734-1797)

A Blacksmith's Shop

Details
RICHARD EARLOM (1743-1822) AFTER JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY (1734-1797)
A Blacksmith's Shop
mezzotint, 1771, on Auvergne laid paper, watermark Name of Jesus and countermark, a fine, rich and clear impression of the second state (of three), published by John Boydell, London, with the scratched inscription, with narrow margins, pale scattered foxing, the sheet slightly toned, framed
Plate 611 x 432 mm., Sheet 617 x 440 mm.
Provenance
The Hon. Christopher Lennox-Boyd (1941-2012).
Literature
Egerton P7 (this impression cited).

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Tim Schmelcher
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Lot Essay

Mezzotint was the most popular printing method in Britain in the 1760’s and 1770’s. These representations of British life, portraiture and landscapes were successfully exported across Continental Europe. The mezzotint technique, due to its soft, tonal effects, lent itself particularly to the translation of paintings into the print medium, and in many cases today such prints provide the only record of now lost paintings.

Joseph Wright was one of the artistic giants of 18th century Britain, whose paintings frequently depicted contemporary scientific and industrial scenes. His fascination with the dramatic effects of light and shade made his works particularly suitable for the publication as mezzotint prints.

Wright’s painting A Blacksmiths Shop of 1771, the first of five paintings on the subject of a blacksmith and forge, succeeds in elevating everyday labour into a noble pursuit. The 1st Lord Melbourne (1744-1828) visited the painter in Derby and purchased the painting before it was complete, some 6-8 months prior to the exhibition at the Society of Artists in London between May and June 1771. Astonishingly, under the publishing directorship of Boydell, Richard Earlom's mezzotint was ready for distribution by August of the same year. The painting is now at the Yale Centre for British Art.

Christopher Lennox-Boyd amassed a comprehensive and unrivalled collection of British mezzotints and was the outstanding authority on the subject.

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