May I present an OUTSTANDING and EXCEPTIONAL pair of original mezzotint art pieces by Samuel Arlent Edwards,* after the artist Nicolas Lancret.** Mr. Edwards printed in mezzotint only 175 each of Nicolas Lancret's "The Garden Party" and "The Music Lesson" after which the plates were destroyed.
Both mezzotints reflect delicate and intricate details in a mellow but rich color palette. The colors are breath-taking and not garish like many of the later mezzotints of these same works after Lancret. In my extensive research, I cannot find any other example of these same prints done by S. Arlent Edwards. These seem to be quite rare to come to a public offering. As if the mezzotint prints aren't amazing enough - let's talk about the frames - the FRAMES! In all my years of collecting and attending auctions, I have never, ever seen frames that were so perfectly customized in shape and design to the print they held. These frames are exceptional and truly magnificent! AND, for being over 100+ years old, they are in remarkable, almost mint condition. The photos will point out any defects that I have found.
Allow me to indulge in a good bit of information I found on Mr. Edwards. I think it will confirm just how amazing these two fine mezzotint art pieces are! There was an exhibit of his work at the Charles Marvin Fairchild Memorial Gallery at Georgetown University from 11/6/2003 to 2/2/2004. I found it very interesting that twenty-six of the art pieces at the exhibit were donated by the artist's son, Sam A. Edwards. The following two paragraphs are from the written introduction to the exhibit:
This exhibit spotlights both an artistic method and an artist too little recognized today. S. Arlent Edwards, by birth an Englishman, reinvented in his New York work the complex and time-consuming process of single-print mezzotint engraving in color. The process is unforgiving of error or impatience but allows unsurpassed delicacy of line, color shading, and texture. It was perfectly suited to Edwards' interest in such fine aspects of old masters' work, and his attention to the details of their paintings resulted in creative reinterpretations that are far more than mere reproductions. Not only are they acts of homage, they are also original works of art in their own right.
As critic Margery Austen Ryerson put it in Art in America in 1919, "The color prints of Mr. Arlent Edwards have a mellowness of color, a soft richness like the illumination of an old Book of Hours, and his hues resemble at times those on pieces of ancient statuary found with bits of the paint still on them....He loves delicate tracery and he revels in the lace veil of some Florentine lady's headdress or the delicate designs of her jewelry and of the textile on the wall above her head. Graceful curves and spaces of rare and beautiful contour he hunts and traces with all the joy of the old master who first put them into the painting....his strength is the frail strength of a flower."
CONDITION: Glass and mezzotint prints are in mint condition. Only the smallest loss of gesso on frames found, as are noted in photos above. The gold gilt gesso on these frames is nothing short of spectacular. The golden sheen on the higher relief areas of the gesso is stunning. Based on the design, style, and quality of gold gilt it is my strong opinion that the frames are of French origin. The verso retains much of the original black paper cover, under which you can see the original wood backing. One of the versos retains the art gallery's name label which in part, reads; Louis Katz Art Galleries***, 308 Columbus Ave. The "s" from Louis and the last name "Katz" is missing but research reveals the full art gallery name and its location in New York, NY. There is an impression where the print number has been filled in (in pencil) but it is faded and I cannot make out the actual number. The glass is original in both pieces and has an evenly distributed, mottled or 'wavy' pattern to it indicating it being of the cylinder type, commonly used in the 19th Century. Both mezzotint prints are signed in pencil by the artist; "Engraved and printed in color at one printing without retouching. S. Arlent Edwards"
SIZE: 21½" high x 19½" wide overall.
*NOTE: Both mezzotints are being sold in their original "as is" condition because I know there are those collectors who prefer originality as opposed to pieces that have been overly restored. Having said this, I know a highly talented and reputable antique restorer who could easily match the color of the gilt's patina which would render the little "white" losses on both frames completely unnoticeable. If you are interested in this, please let me know. I will take care of it for no additional charge to the purchaser. This offer is ONLY for the two exceptionally small losses that have the white gesso showing.
SHIPPING NOTES: To ensure a safe delivery, these will be shipped separately in their own individual boxes. It is for that reason that the Shipping Calculator will indicate 'to be determined'. I do not try to make money on shipping charges so, rest assured, you will only be charged the actual shipping/insurance. If you are within a couple hours of my location and wish to do so, I am happy to arrange a local pickup.
*SAMUEL ARLENT EDWARDS (1862-1938) was born in 1862 in Somerset, England. He studied art and architecture at the Kensington Museum Art School from 1877 to 1881 and then continued studies in engraving with Appleton, Josey & Alais in London. He achieved early success in making mezzotint reproductions of well-known paintings, a path he was to follow all his life. In 1887, he enjoyed the distinction of having an engraving exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. In 1890 he came to the United States and established himself in New York as a book illustrator under the name S. Arlent Edwards. He then began to work on color printing from a single mezzotint plate, an art dormant since late in the eighteenth century. He abhorred the traditional practice of touching up imperfect prints by hand, and he routinely penciled in this statement just above his signature: "Engraved and printed in color at one printing without retouching."
Samuel Arlent Edwards is quoted as saying; "After some years of experimenting and investigating, I believe that I have succeeded in reviving the almost obsolete art of printing in color from a mezzotint plate—done in one printing and without any retouching, as was practiced a hundred years ago by the English engravers—examples of whose works are now in such great demand. I have gone far enough in my experiments to be able to confidentially announce that all the beauties of the old printing will be retained in mine, and I can secure a depth and richness of colour that can be achieved by no other system of printing."
Edwards' work in New York was recognized by American and European collectors. He established a well-deserved reputation for his meticulous copies of old master paintings by such artists as Botticelli, Da Vinci, Nattier, Boucher, Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Romney. He often chose a dominating detail or image as his work's focus, however, rather than reproducing the entire painting. He also occasionally modified the colors. These changes infused his work with originality and gave a vivid sense of new life to the familiar scenes.
Edwards himself inked and printed each plate for every copy, and therefore no two prints were exactly alike. He made only a limited number of copies of each work, insisting that each be sold framed, and then he destroyed each plate. His engravings were sold to subscribers by major dealers such as D. B. Butler and M. Knoedler in New York. (credit: Georgetown University Library)
**NICOLAS LANCRET (1690-1743) was born in Paris and became a brilliant depicter of light comedy which reflected the tastes and manners of French society under the regent Orleans. Two pictures painted by Lancret and exhibited on the Place Dauphine had a great success, which laid the foundation of his fortune, and, it is said, estranged Watteau, who had been complimented as their author. In 1718 he was received as an Academician, from thereon becoming a very respected artist, especially amongst the admirers of Watteau. He completed works to decorate the Palace of Versailles, while his style was later to prove popular with Frederick the Great. Lancret's popularity was reflected by the decision to make him a councilor at the Academie in 1735. Lancret completed numerous paintings, a significant proportion of which (over eighty) were engraved. Although he completed several portraits and historical pieces his favorite subjects were balls, fairs, village weddings and so forth. In this respect, he was typical of Rococo artists. It is generally considered that the artist produced his best work towards the latter end of his life, displaying, in the minds of several art historians, an increasing ability to create a sense of harmony between art and nature. Lancret's last painting, Family in a Garden, The National Gallery, is considered by Levey to be his 'masterpiece'.
LOUIS KATZ ART GALLERIES was located at 308 Columbus Ave., New York, NY. The American Art News published Katz's obituary in January of 1913. In the obituary, we read that Louis Katz was born in Russia (around 1873) and came to the U.S. in 1887 at the approximate age of 14. He worked for the Brau Art Store for several years before opening his own small art shop at 77th and Columbus. In 1903 he moved from that location to Fifth Ave. and 37th Street where he remained for a "few" years before accepting an offer to sell his lease for a profit. It is then that he opened the location at 308 Columbus Avenue from which these mezzotints were sold. Then, in 1913, he moved his gallery again and three years later at the age of 40, he died. From the information given in his obit, we can ascertain that Katz's gallery would have been located at that 308 Columbus Avenue address from approximately 1907 - 1913. It is safe to assume that both of these framed art pieces were sold at some point between those dates.
On a final note, the end of the obituary reads; "Mr. Katz will be missed by a large number of friends and especially by the many American artists to whom he had endeared himself by his generosity and nsehish(?) interest in their careers. He was always fair in his treatment of all who dealt with him, and many artists declare that in his death they have lost a true and good friend." It is entirely possible if not probable that Mr. Katz and Mr. Arlent Edwards would have been well acquainted with each other. Both lived and worked within the art community in New York over the very same time period. Samuel Arlent Edwards was in New York between 1890-1910.
Mezzotints by Samuel "S." Arlent Edwards after Nicolas Lancret