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Pond, A. - Chiaroscuro


London, Cheapside: John Boydell,(circa 1735-1780). Large folio. Quarter-calf, marbled boards. One title leaf listing plates, 70 engraved plates on 61 leaves (43 of the plates trimmed and mounted, 33 with added wood block coloring). First Boydell edition.

In 1735 and 1736 the English artist and printseller Arthur Pond (1701-1758) and publisher Charles Knapton undertook an ambitious project to reproduce seventy print-facsimiles in chiaroscuro of old-master drawings in the most important English collections.  The selection of drawings reveals fashionable taste among British collectors in the 1730's and significantly indicates the ownership of each drawing in accompanying engraved captions.  Represented collectors include Jonathan Richardson (21), Arthur Pond himself (14), Richard Houlditch (10), Hugh Howard (9), Richard Mead (5), James Cavendish (3), Thomas Hammer (2), and one each from Robert Dingley, John Guise, John Campbell, Sir Hans Sloane, Thomas Sadler and Uvedale Price.  The drawings chosen for reproduction are predominantly Italian, in the taste of the Grand Tour, by such artists as Guercino (14), Agosto and Annibale Carracci (11), Parmigiano (7), Panini (6), G. J. Grimaldi and Bolognese (5), Raphael, Mantegna, etc.  In addition, there is a good series of Claude Lorraine (9) and engravings of single drawings attributed to Poussin, Rembrandt, and Willem Van de Velde.  No title or list of drawings was included by Pond and Knapton in 1735-1736 and very few complete sets issued by them have remained together.  In fact there is strong evidence in Pond's journals and accounts that the prints were mostly sold in singles or distributed to other print dealers in England.  There is also correspondence in the 1740's and 1750's between Pond and John Smibert, the Boston artist and print seller, indicating that Smibert ordered some of Ponds prints by the dozen and offered them for resale (see T. Clayton, The English Print).  In 1773 John Boydell purchased the remaining inventory of Pond and Knapton's prints and the copper plates which had been a part of their business during 1730-1750.  Shortly after, Boydell issued this first edition with title page and a listing of all the prints from Pond's earlier project.  The forty-three plates which are trimmed and mounted appear to be from Pond's original production, and thirty-three have added color applied by the use of two or three woodblocks, providing an attractive chiaroscuro effect similar to that of the nearly contemporary publication in Paris of the celebrated Crozat collection.  The other twenty-seven engravings were re-struck by Boydell using Pond and Knapton's copperplates.  The last complete copy of this edition at auction was sold by Christies in July 1982, comprising seventy plates on fifty-nine leaves (of which only thirty-eight were mounted).  Sets are held by the Pierpont Morgan Library and by the University of Chicago Library, but no set is held in the British Library, the Getty Library or other obvious institutional libraries.  Some wear to tips and edges of boards, else very good.