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Alexander Runciman

1736 – 1785

Perseus and Andromeda (large plate) by Alexander Runciman

Perseus and Andromeda (large plate)   c.1774

  Original etching.
Signed in the plate. Signed in pencil, possibly by Runciman himself.
S 163 x 254 mm; I 149 x 245 mm
Rare early impression, very possibly a lifetime printing. Signed in pencil “A. Runciman” in a hand which appears to be the same as on one of the Runciman drawings in the British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings. A very good, strong impression with the very faint second signature still visible at the lower left corner of the image (to the left of the obvious monogram). This faint signature does not appear in later printings and has completely disappeared by the time of the 1826 impressions pulled for Two Hundred Etchings.

The theme of Andromeda recurred on a number of occasions in Alexander Runciman’s work, having been the subject of both a large oil painting and a smaller variant of this etching. There is a third etching by Alexander Runciman concerning the legend of Perseus, which suggests that the artist may have intended a complete series of etched works to illustrate this famous Greek tale.

Impressions prior to the 1826 printing of Alexander Runciman’s plates are extremely rare as none was issued in any published edition until that date. Some lifetime impressions are printed on heavy antique paper, unlike the 1826 issue in which ten of his plates were printed on an extremely fine laid paper always trimmed within the platemark (usually to the image on three sides). This early impression is printed on a relatively even density J Whatman wove paper of unknown date but consistent with the wove papers being produced by James Whatman II throughout the late 1700’s.

With margins around the image on all sides (1826 impressions are trimmed to the borderline of the image), trimmed almost exactly on the platemark. The sheet is inscribed with an old ledger page number in ink at the outer corner verso (not visible from front surface) and is inscribed in another hand in pencil, verso “A. Runciman fecit”. Apart from slight grime verso and in outer margins, the sheet is in generally very good original condition.