Original Henry Fuseli pen lithograph.
The most famous early pen lithograph. A very fine, strong impression in the first state, prior to the imprint of the Polyautographic Office, on original aquatint backing sheet, as released in the first issue of Specimens of Polyautography, published in 1803 by Philipp André. This highly significant publication included only 12 pen lithographs and was the first publication of its kind, worldwide. It is rare to find this early pen lithograph prior to the imprint of the polyautographic office, on an original aquatint mount, as issued.
Signed on the stone by Henry Fuseli and inscribed with the title in reverse in Greek.
Lithography, originally called Polyautography or Chemical Printing, had been invented by Aloys Senefelder, a Bavarian, by the year 1798 but it was not until 1801 that he began to explore the possibilities of the medium in the field of graphic art. Senefelder had come to England in the previous year, with Philipp André, the brother of his commercial partner, to obtain a patent for his new invention and establish a lithographic printing press in this country.
André approached a number of the finest artists in London at the time to produce drawings on stone for a projected publication. Only twelve of these drawings, including Henry Fuseli’s Evening Thou Bringest All, were selected for the set. Each lithograph was trimmed to the borderline of the image (if a border line existed) and glued at its corners on to a separately printed ‘wash’ mount with dark brown or buff aquatint borderlines. These mounts were prepared somewhat crudely and the aquatint borders rarely matched the exact dimensions of the prints.
It had been André’s intention to publish six issues containing six prints each. However, this project was not brought to fruition until 1806-7 when J.G. Vollweiler, who took over the rights to the process from André, re-issued the original twelve prints along with twenty-four new subjects. In both Vollweiler’s issue and the only subsequent publication to include these images, the lithographs were printed on a thin paper and the aquatint borders were printed in a lighter yellow-brownish ochre tint.
Evening Thou Bringest All (often known as Lady at a Window) displays H.Fuseli’s distinctive mature style, having been drawn when he held the office of Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy and after he had been living in England for many years. Drawn directly onto the stone as a test demonstration of Senefelder’s newly invented technique of polyautography, this image is considered to be the most famous early pen lithograph. It was one of only twelve pen lithographs selected for the first set of artists’ lithographs ever to be published.
The sitter for this hand-drawn pen lithograph has been identified as Henri Fuseli’s wife, Sophia (c.1763-1832), who appears in the number of his works. H.Fuseli made only two original lithographs, this pen lithograph and a later chalk or crayon lithograph, entitled Heavenly Ganymede (1804), which was published in the second issue of Specimens of Polyautography in 1806-7.
Very good, strong impression printed on coarse laid white paper tipped at upper corners to original backing mount, as issued. Printing crease in upper left quadrant of sheet. Expert repairs at extreme corners of sheet. Backing sheet watermarked Russell & Co 1799 with full margins and deckle edge, one or two short repaired tears at extreme edges of sheet. Generally very good condition.