JONES, John (c. 1745 - 1797) after William Redmore BIGG (1755-1828)
"Black Monday or the Departure for School" and "Dulce Domum or the Return from School"
London: Published by William Redmore Bigg, 1 December 1790. A pair of colour printed mezzotints. Both in good condition with the exception that (Dulce Domum..) has a skillfully repaired three inch tear extending from the lower section of the margin into the image. Image size (including text): 17 3/4 x 23 1/4 inches approx. Sheet size: 21 x 27 3/4 inches and smaller.
A pair of beautiful mezzotints after the pretty genre paintings of William Redmore Bigg
William Redmore Bigg gained a reputation as an excellent genre painter, the sentiments and handsome appearance of his paintings made them extremely popular in their day. In subject and style Bigg echoed the work of his master Edward Penny, who also specialized in painting genre scenes with messages. He was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and the British Institution, and proved a continued source of inspiration for contemporary engravers.
This pair of engravings is a wonderful example of Bigg's narrative style of painting. In the first image, a family prepares to bid farewell to the two sons who are about to leave for boarding school. The elder son, clearly a seasoned campaigner, is confident and almost appears eager to get back to school and see his friends again. The younger son however is leaving home for the first time and is being comforted ineffectually by his mother, who tries to hold back her tears. His two sisters also try to comfort him, the younger offering a cake and a basket of apples as parting gifts.
A strong contrast is offered by the second image in which the family have rushed out of the house to greet the two returning boys: the younger now also full of confidence is kissed by his elder sister whilst his mother holds his hand. She reaches out her other hand in welcome to her eldest son.
Oddly, this focus on the ordinary trials of family life is fairly rare in the visual arts. It is only seen again in less accomplished expressions mid-19th century American lithographs.