Enfilade

Exhibition: Reynolds’ Celebrity Portraiture & the Market for Mezzotints

Posted in exhibitions by Freya Gowrley on July 25, 2011

From The Huntington:

Out of the Shadows: Joshua Reynolds’ Celebrity Portraiture
and the Market for Mezzotints in 18th-Century Britain
The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 2 July — 26 September 2011

John Raphael Smith after Joshua Reynolds, "Henry George Herbert as 'The Infant Bacchus',” 1776, mezzotint (The Huntington)

One of the most innovative and popular mediums of the great age of 18th-century British art, mezzotint engraving altered the way images were produced and seen by an ever-growing and discerning audience. Building on the tradition of linear printmaking that began with Dürer’s woodcuts in the 15th century, English engravers developed a new tonal technique that provided an unprecedented level of textural refinement and expressive detail through light and shadow, rivaling that of the monumental oil paintings of masters such as Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, and Thomas Gainsborough.

Out of the Shadows: Joshua Reynolds’ Celebrity Portraiture and the Market for Mezzotints in 18th-Century Britain celebrates this rich period of mezzotint with 13 works from The Huntington’s collections. Highlighting the role of mezzotint in the development and dissemination of portraits after those of the most prolific portrait painter of the period, the exhibition includes works by engravers Valentine Green, James Watson, John Dixon, and John Jones, illustrating the popularity, breadth, and richness of mezzotint as a medium, as well as the development and
transformation of artistic production and the role of the artist in
18th-century England.