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Henry Fuseli

1741 – 1825

Heavenly Ganymede / The Rape of Ganymede by Henry Fuseli

Heavenly Ganymede / The Rape of Ganymede   1804

  Original crayon lithograph (polyautograph).
Signed with initials on the stone.
Ref: Weinglass 172; Man 65
S 339 x 285 mm; I 312 x 246 mm
Original crayon lithograph by Henry Fuseli (Johann Heinrich Füssli)

Outstanding early proof printed in 1804, prior to the only published edition. Exceptionally rare. The only published issue of this print was in Vollweiler’s commercially unsuccessful issue of the extended version of Specimens of Polyautography in 1807 (Weinglass gives the date of this publication incorrectly as 1806). The subjects issued only in the 1807 publication are far more scarce than those issued in the 1803 publication by Vollweiler’s predecessor, Philipp André, as the images which had been issued in 1803 were re-issued in the 1807 publication; also, the 1807 publication seems to have been issued in smaller numbers than the 1803 publication. In the 1807 issue, this polyautograph by Fuseli was printed on a relatively smooth, (slightly shiny) thinnish paper and was trimmed straight, close to the image, the trimmed sheet being tipped at the corners to a support sheet printed with orange-brown aquatint framing lines. This outstanding early proof impression is printed on a strong antique wove paper with good untrimmed margins around the image and deckle edges on all sides.

The reversed inscription in Greek translates to read “wherefore the gods caught him up on high” from Homer’s Iliad (XX, line 234). Lines 232-235 of Homer’s tale tell us Ganymede “was born the fairest of mortal men; wherefore the gods caught him up on high to be cupbearer to Zeus by reason of his beauty, that he might dwell among the immortals”.

Impressions of the normal published version can be found in BM; V&A; YCBA; Chicago; MMA; Munich; LJR (Lessing J. Rosenwald).

On cream antique wove paper with full margins and deckle edges. Expertly repaired worm tracks in lower right-hand quadrant of sheet, otherwise generally good condition.