GREEN, Valentine after Benjamin WEST
Their Royal Highnesses..
London: Published by John Boydell, Cheapside, Sept. 29, 1778. Mezzotint. Scratch lettered impression. State i/ii with inscription in open and scratched letters. In good condition apart from three small tears in the bottom margin. Image size: 18 5/8 x 22 3/4 inches. Sheet size: 20 7/8 x 23 7/8 inches. Plate mark: 19 7/8 x 22 7/8 inches.
A stunning portrait of the Children of George III, by the master engraver Valentine Green.
In the history of engraving, no printmaker has achieved such depth and precision as Valentine Green. He is considered the father of the English mezzotint because through his example we can see the pinnacle of mezzotint engraving. During his career, Green produced some of the most beautiful and sought after 18th century mezzotints. At an early age Green apprenticed himself to Robert Hancock of Worcester, where he produced his first published work 'A Survey of the City of Worcester'. In 1765 Green moved to London where his excellent scraping soon earned him a much celebrated reputation. He soon became mezzotint engraver to George III, and a member of the Royal Academy. Throughout his industrious career Green, scratched over 400 plates working from portraits by Benjamin West and Sir Joshua Reynolds.
This group portrait of some of George III's younger children (as of 1778) was one of several mezzotints Green made after paintings by Benjamin West and in his capacity as Engraver to the King. West, of course, was the American expatriate, who became one of the leading portrait artists of the age. The composition is an appealing and economical group of six children: Prince Ernest (standing), Prince Augustus (reclinging), Princesses Augusta (the oldest) and Elizabeth (kneeling with the baby) with Prince Adolphus (still in baby clothes, also holding Princess Mary. The famously uxorious George had fifteen children in all. Queen Charlotte gave birth to three more children after this group was drawn. The original painting is in the Royal Collection. A charcoal sketch by West with five of the children (without the baby Princess Mary) is in the Victoria & Albert.
Whitman, Valentine Green 70,i/ii; Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits 50, i/ii; Russell, English Mezzotint Portraits, and their States i/ii.