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Holbein portrait of an Unknown woman.


Original stipple engraving by 'Historical Engraver to his Majesty George III', Francesco Bartolozzi .R.A (1727-1815).


The Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger (1497- 1543)

German artist Hans Holbein the Younger arrived in England in the 18th year of Henry VIII's reign. At the time Sir Thomas More was Chancellor of the Exchequer and William Warham was Archbishop of Canterbury. Through them Holbein obtained easy access to the leading men of the court,” painting portraits of Moore, Warham and many others before returning home. He journeyed back to England in 1532, where, by 1536, he was in service as The King's Painter and in that year he painted the new queen, Jane Seymour.” Holbein's portraits were drawn with chalk on paper that was a pinkish colour, similar to the colour of the skin of his sitters. 


The Publisher: John Chamberlaine, Keeper of the King's Drawings.

 At the end of the 18th century, John Chamberlaine, in the court of George III, sought to bring together a work to pay tribute to Holbein’s magnificent portraits. There had been previous unsuccessful attempts to publish the portraits in engraved reproductions, such as a 1792 volume containing 33 plates of poor quality, titled The Court of Henry the Eighth. Yet Chamberlain succeeded where others failed, for as the king’s Keeper of the Drawings, he assembled, in this Imitations of Original Drawings by Hans Holbein, 84 splendid color stipple-engraved full-page portraits of Edward VI, Anne Boleyn, Thomas More, Jane Seymour, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Anne of Cleves, and other major figures of the age.  Color-inked on the plates, these intricate stipple-engraved portraits these are the most beautiful example of English colour printing.  The reduced reissue of 1812, reprinted in 1828, bears no comparison in terms of quality. The first editios was initially issued serially in 14 parts from 1792-1800. This volume’s 86 beautiful portraits were achieved with techniques that admirably succeed in honoring Holbein’s portraiture. The plates were etched or engraved in gray or sepia ink, with additional colored inks applied a la poupee, two hand-colored. 


The Engraver: Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815). 

Bartolozzi, the son of a goldsmith, studied painting in Florence, trained as an engraver in Venice and began his career in Rome. In 1763 Richard Dalton, art dealer and librarian to George III, met him and invited him to London, promising him a post as engraver to the king. Bartolozzi moved to London the following year, and remained for thirty-five years. He executed numerous engravings for the king. He also made many engravings of paintings by Italian masters and by his friend, the painter Giovanni Cipriani.


The technique is intaglio as the stippled dots on the printing plate are etched. The colours are applied not after printing as in many coloured prints, but before printing. Balls of rag containing the colours are applied onto the plate (known as à la poupée - with a doll literally translated).  To simulate Holbein’s flesh-coloured paper, Bartolozzi has matched the colour of Holbein’s paper with the colour of the paper chosen for the portraits.


In 1768 Bartolozzi was the only engraver to become a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts. He moved to Lisbon in 1802 as director of the National Academy.Bartolozzi perfected the art of stipple engraving, and was a foundation member of Royal Academy in London in 1768.

Unknown woman, Hans Holbein the Younger - Framed Antique Print

SKU: 1035
  • Image Number: 1035
    Title: Unknown Woman
    Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger
    Engraver: Francesco Bartolozzi
    Medium: Stipple Engraving

    Date: 1793

    Framed Size (h x w): 713 x 538mm



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