JONES, John (c. 1745-1797) after William Redmore BIGG (1755-1828)
Black Monday or the Departure for School
London: Published by William Redmore Bigg, 1 December 1790. Mezzotint.A superb impression, in very good condition with the exception of some surface damage to the margins which affects the imprint in the lower margin. Image size (including text): 17 7/8 x 23 5/8 inches. Sheet size: 19 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches.
A beautiful mezzotint after the genre painting by 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 engraving is a wonderful example of Bigg's narrative style of painting. 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.
This plate is a fine example of John Jones' mastery of mezzotint engraving with its subtle gradations of shadow.