Unique series of working proof impressions from the artist’s own personal collection.
Exceptionally few mezzotints by H.J.F. Badeley are known – this fascinating series of working proofs, provides not only an insight into the artist’s approach to engraving, but also presents Badeley’s only known reproductive mezzotint. Working from both John Constable’s oil painting (then at the National Gallery, London; now at Tate Britain, NO1813) and from a sepia photograph, Badeley began this plate as an open etching in the summer of 1900 – he has progressed to the second state of the plate, in which the mezzotint has been added, by July 1st that year. He then laid the plate aside until October 1914 when he resumed work, introducing detail and variety to the areas of mezzotint and printing the plate using brown ink rather than black. In the final (4th state), he has added many lights to the scene, giving the composition its full atmospheric variety and has chosen a brownish-black ink as his preferred colouration.
John Constable’s painting was a new acquistion for the nation and had only just appeared on public display when Badeley began work on this plate, the painting having been bequeathed to the National Gallery by Henry Vaughan in 1900. It is one of a number of views which Constable painted of Hampstead Heath, in particular of this view of Branch Hill Pond. This specific composition is thought to date from around 1825 and was painted for Constable’s friend, the actor Jack Bannister, who, the artist reported, wanted a landscape in which he could “feel the wind blowing on his face”. In those days, Hampstead Heath was still a comparatively wild and open landscape, to which many artists turned as a refuge from the crowded city of London.
The open etching is printed on heavy wove paper, whilst the three mezzotint states are printed on pale cream china paper applied to original heavy wove backing sheets. All four working proofs have margins as prepared by the artist and aside from some very minor marginal foxing are in generally very good original condition.
A fascinating study group.