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Thomas Stothard

1755 - 1834

The Lost Apple by Thomas Stothard

The Lost Apple   1803

  Original pen lithograph.
Signed and dated on the stone.
Ref: Man 134
Dimensions of lithograph: S 323 x 232 mm; I 323 x 226 mm
Dimensions of mount: S 500 x 386 mm; P 423

Very rare. One of the first pen lithographs ever published, on original aquatint mount, as issued.

Excellent impression on original, first issue, aquatint mount watermarked 1799. Both print and mount in particularly fine condition. Inscribed on the stone "Th. Stotthard, del."

A very fine example from the first issue of Specimens of Polyautography, published in 1803 by Philipp André. This was the first publication ever to have employed the newly invented process of lithography.

Lithography, originally called Polyautography or Chemical Printing, had been invented by Aloys Senefelder, a Bavarian, by the year 1798 but it was not until 1801 that he began to explore the possibilities of the medium in the field of graphic art. Senefelder had come to England in the previous year, with Philipp André, the brother of his commercial partner, to obtain a patent for his new invention and establish a lithographic printing press in this country.

André approached a number of the finest artists in London at the time to produce drawings on stone for a projected publication. Only twelve of these drawings, including Thomas Stothard's The Lost Apple, were selected for the set. Each lithograph was trimmed to the borderline of the image (if a borderline existed) and glued at its corners on to a separately printed ‘wash’ mount with dark brown or buff aquatint borderlines. These mounts were prepared somewhat unevenly and the aquatint borders rarely matched the exact dimensions of the prints.

It had been André’s intention to publish six issues containing six prints each. However, this project was not brought to fruition until 1806-7 when J.G. Vollweiler, who took over the rights to the process from André, re-issued the original twelve prints along with twenty-four new subjects. In both Vollweiler’s issue and the only subsequent publication to include these images, the lithographs were printed on a thin paper and the aquatint borders were printed in a lighter yellow-brownish ochre tint, making them easily distinguishable from the present first issue example.

Thomas Stothard's The Lost Apple is a marvellous example of the facility of the new technique, which allowed an artist to make his drawing more freely than any preceding printmaking process.

At the left of the image a child is seen reaching over the stable door of a cottage, attempting to retrieve the apple which he has dropped - hence the title of this famous lithograph.

A particularly good example of Thomas Stothard's lithograph, printed on warm cream wove paper without watermark and glued at upper corners to the original aquatint mount, as issued. The aquatint mount is printed in buff coloured ink on off-white wove paper, watermarked Russell & Co 1799, with full margins beyond the edge of the aquatint plate (it is most unusual for the mount sheet not to have been trimmed within the platemark - this full sheet is untrimmed with deckle edge). In particularly good condition, with only some slight rubbing at extreme lower corners of print and some minor nicks at outer edges of mount sheet. It is exceptional to find an example from this series in such good condition, together with its original aquatint mount.