NORTHCOTE, After James, R.A. (1746-1831), engraved by Charles Turner
The Lion in Love... Lion Amoûreux
London: published by James Daniell & Co., 28 September 1799. Mezzotint, printed in colours and finished by hand, by Charles Turner. Image size (including text): 20 1/2 x 20 5/8 inches. Sheet size: 24 1/4 x 22 inches.
Rare, coloured issue of this poignant image taken from Aesop's fables.
Northcote, who worked as pupil and assistant to Sir Joshua Reynolds for five years from 1771, produced works in a number of genres: portraits, historical and subject pictures, morally instructive scenes and, during the 1790s, animal painting. The present image of the lion (a symbol of strength) tamed by his love for a beautiful maiden is from Aesop's fables: Once, a Lion once fell in love with a lovely young girl. He approached her parents and asked for her hand in marriage. Her parents, not wishing to anger the King of the Beasts, were also unwilling to put their daughter into danger. Her father proposed a marriage contract: "We are honoured by your Majesty's proposal, but fearful for the safety of our daughter, a tender young thing. We fear that in the vehemence of your affection you might possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that your Majesty should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted, then we would gladly consider your proposal again." The Lion was so much in love that he had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out. But when he came again to the parents of the young girl they simply laughed in his face, and bade him do his worst.
Cf. Le Blanc IV, p.63, no. 67 (black and white only).