SHOTTER BOYS, Thomas (1803-1874)
[Ghent] Belfry, Gand
[London]: 1839. Lithograph by Shotter Boys. Printed in colours by Charles Hullmandel, deluxe edition, trimmed to the subject as issued, mounted on archival mount. Image size (including text): 15 1/8 x 10 1/2 inches.
A very fine image from Boys' 'Picturesque Architecture in Paris, Ghent, Antwerp, Rouen &c': ''a work of exceeding beauty' (Abbey) and one of the most important in the history of English colour-printing.
This print represents part of what was the first serious challenge to the supremacy in England of the hand-coloured aquatint. The plates in Boys' Picturesque Architecture in Paris, Ghent, Antwerp, Rouen &c 'are produced entirely by means of lithography: they are printed with oil-colours, and come from the press precisely as they now appear.' As detailed in the Descriptive Notice, it was strictly stipulated by the publisher that no colour be added, and goes on to state that previous attempts at chromolithography had suffered from an unnatural flatness 'whereas in these views, the various effects of light and shade, of local colour and general tone, result from graduated tone. The atmospheric appearance of the skies, giving day-light appearance to the out-door scenes, is the best evidence of the purity and relevance of the tints of colour; which...combine solidity with transparency'. Boys fully explored the range of possibilities that the new technique offered: one subject is presented as if it were 'a crayon sketch heightened with colour', others 'a sepia drawing, with touches of colour...a slight sketch in water-colours...a finished water-colour...an oil painting', etc. Abbey waxes lyrical about the work: "A very beautiful [work]...Apart from the brilliance, sensitivity, and...mastery of the drawing on stone there is the great...technical and artistic achievement of Hullmandel in making possible the transmission of such drawings, and in developing the cool, transparent, graduated tints, subtle in colouring...the [work] appears to have made a great impression at the time, King Louis Philippe...is said to have presented the publishers with a diamond ring; and a review in a contemporary magazine, Art Union, said: Our recommendation of it to all who love and can appreciate art cannot be given in terms too strong; it is worthy of the highest possible praise. The Work is of exceeding beauty." (AbbeyTravel I, 33).
Cf. Abbey Travel I, 33; cf. E. Beresford Chancellor, Picturesque Architecture in Paris..by Thomas Shotter Boys, London: Architectural Press, 1928; cf. Friedman 134; Tooley 105.