18th Century Miniature Pair Dressed Prints RARE Ariadne and Bacchus From Ovid Metamorphoses Circa 1770
An absolutely stunning pair of miniature dressed print engravings form the second half of the 18th century. This is a VERY scarce pair and our most favorite find and by studying our images we hope that you too can share our passion for this exceptionally beautiful pair. We adore dressed prints and if we discover any we try to snap them up, these are truly something special.......
Each miniature engraving was actually produced in the late 17th century, circa 1690 (see similar adorned prints held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London of Mademoiselle Subligny). Then in the 18th century a fad arrived from Europe for dressing or adorning these early engravings. Sections of the original paper engravings would be carefully and intricately cut away to be replaced underneath by luxury brocaded silks, with over applied sections of silver bobbin lace and other luxurious embellishments. The prints would also have hand coloring applied.
Our oval pair are housed in their original circa 1770 turned fruitwood frames with gilt inner decoration, original rear suspension loops and gorgeous original old bubbled, wavy glass. The scenes depict studies from Ovid's Metamorphoses see the 17th century Antoine Coypel painting of Bacchus and Ariadne with Satyr. See also the Baroque portraits from the 17th century of ladies in a state of deshabille (undress). Artists such as Sir Peter Lely (see his Barbara Villiers portrait) and Sir Godfey Kneller (Lucretia springs to mind) were firm favorites as Royal painters for Britain's Kings and Queens.
We see Princess Ariadne standing in water as she searches out to sea for her lover the hero Theseus who has abandoned her on the island of Naxos and sailed away. Behind her a Satyr (faun) awaits her with amorous intentions - of course symbolizing the God Bacchus who imminently arrives on the island and asks to marry her; offering her the sky as a wedding gift. Ariadne is dressed in the very fashionable undressed style of the 1670's - see the portraits of Sir Peter Lely. She wears a sumptuous pale blue silk brocade open gown with silver wrapped thread long waisted stomacher (bodice). A string of threaded seed pearls is draped across her tight stomacher - a favorite pearl accessory of 17th century ladies of nobility. A pale gold silk wrap billows in the breeze. TEENY hand cut mica spangles (sequins ) can just be seen on her arm band and in her hair....only a few remain. The tops of the rushes are cut away and replaced with inserted silk, so too the Satyr's red devil like cloak.
Next we see Ariadne still abandoned on the island of Naxos by Theseus - continuing the fashionable drapery theme we see her comfortably reclined being brought a garland of flowers by cupid. She wears an open cream silk dress with silver wrapped silk (file) cloak and belt. She reclines on a sheet of golden plain woven silk. The entire engraving hand colored in muted shades of ochre.
Size:4 7/8" (12.2 cm) by 4.25" (11 cm), sight 3 3/8" (8.5 cm) by 2.75" (7 cm).
Condition: Very good with only minor points to mention. Both frames have very old professional repairs, one at 4 o'clock and on the other frame at 2 o'clock (it is so common for oval frames to split). Some rubbing to the inner gilt decoration. Some losses to the mica spangles and possibly some missing decoration to Ariadne's forehead.
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