This is one of a pair of allegorical mezzotint engravings in my Iconic Edinburgh online store which represents the Seasons.
They are both published by P. Barnaskine, London in 1799.
This lovely and rare mezzotint represents Autumn and Winter.
It well presented and is being sold with a new fresh (and clean) window mount - ready to be framed.
The print is in very good condition given its age - with only little touches of very light age spotting in the sky area, a little more to the left-hand side sky area - but apart from that a most attractive print.
The print would have originally been printed in just black tones - and the colouring has been added to make it look more painterly. The hand-colouring dates to the time of publication and has not been added at a later date.
The image shows Autumn to the left: a lady is picking ripe grapes from the tree and hands them to the children. The little girl to the left holds out her apron to gather the fruits and in the foreground, another little girl has them all collected up into a basket.
To the right (separated by a tree trunk) we have a winter scene. The tree is now bare of leaves and it is a cold grey landscape. Touches of snow can be seen on the branches. A fine Georgian gentleman and his lady are out for a country walk - the lady carries a muff to keep her hands warm. In the background, a hunting party is seen shooting game birds.
A fine Georgian original print - and a highly collectable mezzotint,
Dimensions: Image size is 24.5 x 35 cm. The mount size is 38.5 x 51 cm
Impressions of this fine mezzotint and its pendant print showing Autumn and Winter are in the Print Room at the British Museum, London
Well presented with new matching mounts - fabulous decorator's pieces for a period interior.
Priced quoted is for Royal Mail Next Day Special Delivery (£ 10) - it would cost the same price to send the pair to you.
THE TECHNICAL STUFF:
Mezzotint engravings were popular prints produced in the 18th century and were intricate and rather time-consuming to produce. The printmaking process starts by roughening a copper printing plate with a rocker (a tool with varying numbers of teeth) to give it a rough burr all over the plate. This plate will print a rich, velvety black when completely roughened.
To achieve the greys and lights up to white tones, the burr is removed with a scraper or flattened with a burnisher until the required tone is achieved. It is a lengthy process but the tonal range that can be achieved is what gives mezzotint its softness and it is particularly suited to dramatic effects of light and dark (chiaroscuro).
Very high pressures are required to print mezzotint properly and this means that plates wear quickly. Editions of prints are therefore small as the quality of the blacks and greys diminishes quite quickly due to press wear.