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Prince Rupert of the Rhine

Head of the Executioner by  Rupert of the Rhine

Head of the Executioner  

With the initials of Prince Rupert in the plate.
Ref: Not in Hollstein.
S & P 134 x 168 mm; I 132 x 165 mm;
Mezzotint by an unknown artist after Rupert of the Rhine, not recorded by Hollstein. Superb impression with exceptionally smooth, velvety blacks. There is a luminosity to this print indicative of an exceptionally early impression from a totally fresh mezzotint plate.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine’s mezzotint of this subject after Ribera is regarded as a landmark in the early history of mezzotint engraving. Prince Rupert’s mezzotint was first published in this format in John Evelyn’s treatise entitled Sculptura; or, the History and Art of Chalcography, and Engraving in Copper…To which is annexed, A New Manner of Engraving, or Mezzotinto, Communicated by His Highness Prince Rupert to the Author, in 1662. The engraver, Houston, made a mezzotint copy of Prince Rupert’s work which was used in both the second (1755) and third (1769) editions of this book. The only other copies listed by Hollstein are both in reverse relative to Prince Rupert’s engraving.

This exceptionally fine mezzotint is a direct copy of Prince Rupert’s work (not in reverse), displaying a far smoother and more cleanly handled engraving technique. We have been unable to date the present engraving accurately; however, it is fractionally larger than Prince Rupert’s mezzotint and is printed on paper consistent with the eighteenth century. This work provides a fascinating addendum to the known mezzotints of this subject and is a beautiful example of mezzotint engraving itself.

Trimmed on the platemark. One short crease at upper right corner, otherwise generally good original condition.