||NORTHCOTE, James engraved by UNKNOWN
circa 1798. Mezzotint and drypoint printed in sepia ink. In good condition with the exception of being trimmed to image. Tipped onto laid backing sheet. Image size: 11 ¾ x 14 ¾ inches. Sheet size: 13 7/8 x 16 13/16 inches.
This intriguing mezzotint is a reverse and reduced version of Samuel William Reynold's "Leopards" after James Northcote's famous painting.
George Stubbs' impact on the history and development of English art cannot be realized until we examine the manner in which his sublime paintings influenced and inspired an entire generation of artists. One of the foremost English artists inspired by Stubbs' dramatic work was the celebrated painter James Northcote. His stirring images of wild animals have their roots in Stubbs' seminal paintings; they express the same wild natural beauty and the same sense of artistic order that distinguishes Stubbs' works. Northcote's animals are regal, they are larger than life, they are nature and art combined, and they inspire the viewer with their breathtaking sense of drama and their pure beauty of form. Northcote began painting animals during the 1790's after he had established himself as one of the foremost artists in England.
The son of a Plymouth watchmaker, he was trained by Sir Joshua Reynolds. After traveling through Europe, Northcote was elected to the Imperial Academy in Florence, the Academy dei Forti in Rome and the Ancient Etruscan Academy in Cortona. Upon returning to England he became a Royal Academician, a privilege he enjoyed for the duration of his career. Under Reynolds' tuition he became an accomplished portrait painter, but he also produced many fine historical paintings as well as scenes from Shakespeare for Boydell's Gallery. Northcote also penned Reynolds' memoirs, which remains one of the most valuable historical accounts of Reynolds' life.
Northcote was acutely aware of the importance of engravings in establishing an artist's reputation. It was for this reason that he employed some of the foremost English engravers to reproduce his paintings for publication. The first engraving of this painting was mezzotinted by the accomplished English engraver Samuel William Reynolds. This image is almost an exact copy of Reynold's mezzotint, with the exception that it is much smaller. The image is reversed indicating that it is a copy of Reynold's earlier print. This is a lovely impression of this dramatic image and a wonderful example of Northcote's beautiful painting. Northcote's painting, which is entitled "Two Cheetah's," went up for sale at Sothebys in London, on the 10th of November 1993. Lennox-Boyd & Stogdon suggest that the cats are most likely jaguars and not cheetahs, because of their heavy build and striped chests.
C.G Boerner, English Mezzotints from the Lennox-Boyd Collection (Exhibition Catalogue) no. 76.