~ Framed Chromolithographic Portrait of Nelson (after Lemuel Francis Abbott) ~
This is a print of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson made sometime around the 1850's.
It is an interesting piece in that it is based upon the famous Lemuel Francis Abbott portrait (pictured last in our series of shots), but it portrays Nelson without his tied, long hair. Instead, this one features him sporting a shorter cut with sideburns - a style much more fashionable around the time of the piece’s creation.
The artist is unknown to us and no signature can be discerned (we have opted not to open up the frame as a small remnant of the original backing paper would be torn in doing so).
Chromolithography is a chemical process that was developed to improve cost-efficiency of colour images. The process is based on the rejection of grease by water and is achieved by treating and inking litho stones on a carefully calibrated or “registered” press.
This piece appears to have required at least four or five stones (each inked with separate colours) that were treated with a medium to achieve a stippled effect for the tonal qualities (a process that would be developed and patented a few decades later by Ben Day).
Many chromolithographs have deteriorated because of the acidic frames surrounding them but this has enjoyed (perhaps accidentally) a good archival longevity due to the broad, glass border that maximises the impact of the relatively small print and its decorated plaster frame.
As would be expected from the era, the plaster profile has been painted gold, but in addition, reflecting the Vice Admiral’s many decorations, a smart pair of gold enamel stripes surround the image, painted directly on the reverse-side of the original glass, which has been blacked to define the aperture.
~ Dimensions ~
The frame is 12 x 10 inches (30.5 x 25.5 cm) and its profile is 2 inches deep (5 cm).
The image is itself just under 5 x 3 and a half inches in size (11.5 x 8.3 cm).
The piece weighs 910 grams.
~ Condition ~
The piece is in great shape and ready to hang. There is no damage to the glass, no fading to the image, no foxing of the paper and only a few bumps and chips on the corners of the frame.
The glass (and image) has sunk into the top left corner of the frame by 3mm or so, but this is only noticeable under close scrutiny. This could be very easily restored by opening the back and making a measured adjustment, but our team does not feel this necessary as in our opinion, this tiny imperfection ought not spoil the viewer’s appreciation of this antique at all.