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James Northcote

1746 - 1831

Bacchus accompanied by a Leopard and a Tiger by James Northcote

Bacchus accompanied by a Leopard and a Tiger   c.1798

  Original etching.
With the artist’s name in the plate.
P 164 x 274 mm; I 153 x 262 mm
Extremely rare original etching by James Northcote.

James Northcote was famous throughout his long and productive life as a portrait painter, a history painter, and for his outstanding depictions of wild animals. Original prints by his hand are extremely rare, most prints of his designs having been produced by professional reproductive engravers. No other reference to this particular design has been traced and few impressions of this etching are known. It is remarkable for its strength of handling, employing an unusual but effective manner of shading through the use of short etched strokes and, despite its obviously classical subject matter, it is distinctly modern in the effect which it achieves.

This etching is now thought to date from around 1797-99, the period during which James Northcote produced his finest paintings to feature wild animals. The history of this plate is unknown – the few existing impressions are printed on paper of three types: the first dating from the turn of the eighteenth century; the second watermarked R&T 1810; and the last watermarked J.Whatman 1817; all have the undated publication line of R. Pottard, London.

The decorative frieze-like design of this rare etching has been greatly enhanced by James Northcote’s Romantic use of the leopard and tiger (animals much in vogue in English art at the time) to embellish an otherwise essentially Italianate composition. It is undoubtedly the most striking of James Northcote’s few original etched works.

Early impression printed on coarse wove paper dating from the turn of the eighteenth century, trimmed approximately on the platemark. A very strong impression with the engraved lettering printing clearly, but inked slightly dryly at the extreme right edge of the image. Generally very fine original condition.