OLD MASTER PRINTS: 16th to 18th Century

Original Prints: Etchings and Mezzotint Engravings


Here we intend to show rare and original Old Master prints, covering a rather long and innovative period in terms of the graphic arts and the printmakers, who progressively mastered a variety of media (woodcuts, etchings, mezzotint engravings, aquatint...), and turned them to their own creative advantage.

The main criteria are those of remarkable early works or relatively unknown works, for the artist or the period, and innovative, often well aside from the conventional aesthetics of the time...

Bega, Peasant stuffing his Pipe, etching

Cornelis Pietersz. Bega (ca. 1631 - 1664)

Peasant lighting his Pipe [Le Paysan allumant sa Pipe]

Zittende Man steekt Pijp aan

Bartsch 20, Hollstein 20 (2 of 4) , Dutuit 20

etching, 2nd state, before reinforcement of the borderline, with considerable selective plate wiping, and before traces of wear to the darker areas that appear early on

A renowned Dutch printmaker from Haarlem, Cornelis Bega was a keen observer, often staging the commonplace with a witty eye.  His etchings offer succinct insights into everyday scenes, following on a longstanding Breughelian tradition.


Correggio (after), Madonna and Child, with Saint Catherine, etching

Antonio Correggio (1489 - 1534) [after], etching by Luigi Scaramuccia (1616 - 1680, also known as Il Perugino)

The Virgin and Child with St Catherine and an Angel holding a Book

Bartsch, not described

etching, ca. 1640-1680, the only known state, apparently one of only a few impressions of this rare print (which does not exist for example in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)

A moving rendition of the central scene of Correggio's masterpiece (now in Parma's Galleria Nazionale), reducing the original picture to a Sacra Conversazione, qua Mystic Marriage.

Corot, Paysage d'Italie, etching     

Philibert-Louis Debucourt, Le Café Ambulant, etching and aquatint, 1821

Philibert-Louis Debucourt (1755 - 1832)

Le Café Ambulant

Fenaille 494

etching and aquatint, 1821, the only known state, a rare impression with contemporary hand coloring, on heavy wove paper

Debucourt was one of the master color-printmakers of the period, developing the medium to technical perfection.  This aquatint is one of his later prints, chronicling post-revolutionary Parisian street life, here an itinerant coffee vendor

Corot, Paysage d'Italie, etching     

John Faber, Cave Underhill, mezzotint

John (Johan) Faber Jr. (ca. 1695-1756)

Mr Cave Underhill

Chaloner Smith 357 (only state described)

mezzotint engraving, 1712, on medium-fine laid paper

Though born in the Netherlands, John Faber Jr was best known as a portraitist in England, and Mr Cave Underhill was a renowned actor; this rare mezzotint, according to Chaloner Smith, was probably Faber's first print.  


Fragonard, Famille du Satyre, etching

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806)

Quatre Bacchanales  (La Famille du Satyre)

Four Bacchanalia (The Family of the Satyr)

Baudicour 6-9, Wildenstein I-IV, cf. Portalis & Beraldi 1

the  complete set of four etchings, 1763, on medium-fine ivory laid paper; the rare 1st state (of 2), before the addition of the numbering

The Plate 2 of the Bacchanales ou Jeux de Satyres (shown here) a delightful little etching, is a splendid example of both Fragonard's wit and immense graphic mastery of a fantastic pseudo-antiquarian rendering Roman stelae.   


Claude Lorrain, Port de Mer au fanal, etching

Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (1600-1682)

Le Port de Mer au Fanal

Seaport with a Beacon

Mannocci 37 II (R-D 11, D 11, B 13, K 138, R 22)

etching, ca. 1640, on medium-weight laid paper, a very rare contemporary impression of the first known state, before various alterations and inscriptions

Though born in Lorraine (whence his common name, Claude Lorrain), Claude Gellée spent most of his life in Rome, where he quite successfully developed a masterfully atmospheric rendering of light in painting and etching imaginary landscapes (drawing commisions from the pope, the king of Spain, and a number of cardinals), and which notably influenced Turner.


Goltzius, engraving, Holy Family

Hendrick Goltzius  (1558 - 1617)

The Holy Family before a Column [after Bartholomeus Spranger]

Bartsch 274, Hollstein (Dutch) 318.1, Strauss 219.1

engraving, 1585, on medium-weight laid paper, a very fine early impression of the rare first state of this print, before Visscher's address (and thus published by Goltzius himself)

Hendrik Goltzius was a major printmaker of the Northern Mannerist style, quite innovative, and already famous in his lifetime.  Here inspired by Bartholomeus Spranger (court painter to the Emperor Rudolf II), Goltzius first produced several engravings of the master's religious themes in 1585, of which this is one of the most notable.


Jean-François Janinet, La Folie, etching and aquatint

Jean-François Janinet  (1752 - 1814)

La Folie (d'après Fragonard)

Portalis & Beraldi II.477.26

color etching and aquatint, circa 1777, on medium-weight laid paper, a very fine impression of this rare print, with  margins

Jean-François Janinet, who was also both a physicist and a chemist, is considered to be a major innovator of 18th century color printmaking in France; he produced a remarkable variety of fine prints, including mythological and allegorical subjects, portraits, and historical scenes. 

Here Janinet interpreted what appears to be a splendid Fragonard watercolor wash drawing, showing a flitting putto, as a pendant to l'Amour, considered by Portalis & Beraldi to be one of his finest, "qui rend à merveille les chaudes et delicates colorations du maître". (Portalis & Beraldi II: p. 463)


Janinet, Mademoiselle Rose Bertin, color aquatint, ca.1780

Jean-François Janinet  (1752 - 1814)

Mademoiselle Rose Bertin

IFF 61, Portalis & Beraldi II.484.114

color etching and aquatint, circa 1780, on medium-weight laid paper, a very fine and possibly unique impression of this exceedingly rare print, often considered to be Janinet's masterpiece. 

Jean-François Janinet, who was also both a physicist and a chemist, is considered to be a major innovator of 18th-century color printmaking in France; he produced a remarkable variety of fine prints, including mythological and allegorical subjects, portraits, and historical scenes. 

Mlle. Bertin was the "marchande de modes" to Marie-Antoinette, and is known as the first French fashion designer.


Balthasar Jenichen, Mathias Flacius, engraving, 1571

Balthasar Jenichen  (fl. 1560 - before 1621)

The True Portrait of Mathie Flacii Illiirici, also known as Matthias Flacius Illyricus, or Mathias Flach

Bartsch 37 IIIA

engraving, 1571, on medium-fine laid paper, a very fine early impression of this rare print, before various alterations to the plate

Balthasar Jenichen's forceful engraving of Mathias Flacius, a major figure of the German Reformation, is the only known lifetime portrait of the scholar.


Le Prince, La Danse Russe, etching with aquatint

Jean-Baptiste Le Prince  (1734 - 1781)

Oeuvres de Jean-Baptiste Le Prince: contenant plus de cent soixante Planches gravées à l'eau-forte & à l'imitation des Dessins Lavés au bistre : le tout d'après ses compositions représentant divers Costumes & Habillemens de Différens Peuples du Nord ...

etchings with aquatint, first edition, the complete album, grand in-folio, as published by Basan Frères, Paris, 1782, on medium-fine laid paper, with various watermarks, fine impressions bound in a contemporary binding, as published

Jean-Baptiste Le Prince was an innovative artist whose research on etching-wash techniques with aquatint, and his extensive travels in Imperial Russia, here result in a hallmark work of epic proportion.


Wm Ward, Sallad Girl, mezzotint


William Ward, A.R.A (1766 -1826), after John Hoppner, R.A. (1758-1810)

Sallad Girl (Portrait of Phoebe Hoppner)

Russell 47.IV (?)

mezzotint, 1783, on medium-weight cream laid paper; a rare early state (3rd or 4th of 5, according to Russell), before correction of the double L in the title

William Ward was one of the foremost mezzotint engravers in England during the late 18th century, and this charming rendition of Hoppner's portrait of his daughter is one of Ward's most famous prints.