Archive for May 21st, 2010

Departed genius and virtue

We just acquired a lovely engraving that was sent to the attendees at Sir Joshua Reynolds’s funeral, held at St. Paul’s Cathedral on March 3rd, 1792. (click to enlarge)

Sir Joshua Reynolds funeral engraving, Houghton *2009-2210

What’s particularly interesting about this item is that, according to a letter in the Hyde Collection, it shouldn’t exist. MS Hyde 30 is a collection of documents relating to Reynolds’s funeral and estate, and the first item is a letter from the engraver Francesco Bartolozzi to Philip Metcalfe, one of the executors, thanking him for the commission, but protesting that it will be impossible to complete the engraving he requests in time. It’s hard to understand why Bartolozzi writes “If Mr. Bartolozzi had received this Notice the day after his Decease, he would have thought himself highly honoured by the Preference shewn to him” since the Reynolds died on Feb. 23rd, and the letter is dated the 24th.

Bartolozzi to Metcalfe, MS Hyde 30 (1)

Apparently the two were able to come to an understanding (and perhaps Metcalfe soothed the engraver’s artistic vanity), since Bartlozzi’s name appears on the finished product. The design is by Edward Burney, cousin of the novelist Fanny Burney.

Published in:John Overholt |on May 21st, 2010 |Comments Off on Departed genius and virtue