Joseph Webb’s largest printed work.
The choice exhibition proof used for all of the Joseph Webb memorial exhibitions throughout Europe and England. Superb early proof impression with exceptionally rich drypoint burr, signed in pencil by the artist.
The only recorded proof printed before the plate was cut down. An exceptionally early proof impression which shows many variations from the few other known impressions of this rare drypoint work.
In this state the totally fresh drypoint burr is printing at its richest, giving a beautiful velvetly texture to the print. The plate was subsequently reduced in height by 4.5 centimetres and the base of the image was altered to reduce the image proportionately (Meyrick gives the plate dimensions as 558 x 419 mm, whereas this proof measures 603 x 420 mm). This proof is before the foreground flagstones and shadows were removed and prior to items which were added on the mantlepiece space above the fireplace. No other comparable impression has been reported.
The outstanding quality of this particular impression makes clear why it was selected as the exhibition proof for the Joseph Webb memorial exhibitions.
An Astrologer Instructing His Pupils is the key work in a series of images which Joseph Webb created in the early 1930’s concerning his astrological and theosophical beliefs. Webb held strong convictions regarding mystic power and the occult and Robert Meyrick regards this image as showing the scene inside Webb’s vision of A Master’s House:- “Within the Master’s House sits An Astrologer Instructing His Pupils. On the wall of his study hangs a zodiac with symbols denoting the twelve stations and their celestial longitude. The Master is seated at his lectern, calculating the path of the planets and the sun in order to explain or predict events on Earth. In its composition, Webb’s print draws heavily on A Man Seated at a Table in a Lofty Room (1628-30) by a follower of Rembrandt (National Gallery, London). Webb was an amateur astrologer himself and would calculate the astrological charts of people he met. Moon, Uranus, Mars, Saturn, Mercury and The Conjunction of Uranus and the Sun are among his many near abstract canvases of the thirties relating to the planets, stars and origins of the cosmos. (Joseph Webb, the lights that flit across my brain, 2007, p.39).
Accompanied by the backboard exhibition labels from the 1966 Memorial Exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune Galleries in Paris, the 1967 exhibition at Den Frei Üdstilling in Copenhagen, and the exhibition at The Augustine Gallery in Norfolk in 1968.
On cream laid paper with narrow margins. Mat line and mild toning in margins, otherwise generally very good original condition.