DUNKARTON, Robert (1744-c. 1810) after Anthony VAN DYCK (1599-1641)
Lady Philadelphia Wharton
London: John Boydell, in Cheapside, Jan. 1st, 1781. Mezzotint. State v/v, with the plate regrounded and reworked; face darker, details of rock-face obscured, inscription altered to previous state. In pristine condition. Image Size: 15 1/8 x 11 7/8 inches. Sheet size: 17 x 13 3/4 inches. Plate mark: 16 1/4 x 11 7/8 inches.
A breathtaking impression of this stunning print by Robert Dunkarton, the master of the English mezzotint.
This portrait of Lady Wharton (1594-1654) by van Dyck was one of the paintings that George Walpole sold to Catherine the Great, and which John Boydell had preserved for the nation in mezzotint by Dunkarton. Robert Dunkarton is considered to be a master of English mezzotint; his complicated images distinguish themselves with their rich detail and precise execution. His bold style focuses on the play between light and shade, forming a surface consistency which creates velvety tones and rich textures. Dunkarton practiced his trade in London during the close of the eighteenth century. He learned his skill as an engraver from the printmaker William Pether whose dark intimate style can be seen reflected in his pupil's work. Dunkarton began his career as a portrait painter, exhibiting at the Society of Artists and the Royal Academy between 1768 and 1779, after which he concentrated solely on printmaking. As an engraver he is known for his striking portraits after old master painters like Van Dyck, such as this stunning portrait of Lady Wharton from the Houghton Gallery, but some of his work at this period reproduces the works of contemporary painters like Reynolds and Copley.
Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits 40, not described; Russell, English Mezzotint Portraits, and their States 40, not described; O'Donoghue, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits... in the British Museum 1; Lennox-Boyd & Stogdon, state v/v.