BARTOLOZZI, Francesco & Samuel ALKEN after Francis Wheatley
Return from Shooting
London: Published by Colnaghi & Co., 1 January 1803. Colour printed stipple engraving with added hand colour. In good condition with the exception of being trimmed to the edge of the plate mark on the top and bottom margins. Skillfully mended tears in right and left margins. Image size (including text): 18 1/2 x 24 1/4 inches. Sheet size: 28 x 21 inches.
A wonderful hunting portrait of the Duke of Newcastle by the celebrated painter Francis Wheatley.
Wheatley was born and trained in London, and in 1769 was one of the first students admitted to the newly founded Royal Academy. Although he initially practiced as a landscape painter, by the mid-1770s he had become a popular painter of small-scale portraits and informal 'conversation-pieces'. From the 1780s onwards, Wheatley turned increasingly to sentimental domestic scenes that were perfectly attuned to the genteel sensibilities of the period. Today he is generally remembered for his 'Cries of London', which depicted street vendors such as milkmaids, and fruit sellers engaged in their trade on the street sides. This series was a great success, and inspired a myriad of different engravings and copies by celebrated artists such as Johan Zoffany and J. G. Huck.
Wheatley's pretty genre paintings of rural and domestic life were a great source of inspiration for contemporary engravers who reproduced his work with industrious vigor. The popularity of these engravings greatly enhanced Wheatley's reputation, and made him one of the most celebrated painters of his day. 'The Return from Shooting' appears to be one of Wheatley last known large group portraits, before he concentrated his artistic talents on decorative genre painting. Painted in 1788, the work is an accomplished portrait of the Duke of Newcastle and Colonel Litchfield just returned from a days hunt, and beautifully exhibits Wheatley's style of informal portraiture.
Cf. Mellon British Sporting and Animal Prints p.201; cf. Schwerdt III, p.34; Vesme & Calabi, Francesco Bartolozzi 2507; Webster, Francis Wheatley p. 100, p. 170 E80, state ii/ii.