Description

    William Faithorne. Portrait of a Gentleman. [Only known perfect copy]. England: circa 1640-1645.

    More Information:

    First and only state. Fine impression, cut close around oval, lacking the outer margins. Adhered by a single piece of small plate tape to white matting, two small remnants of tape on verso. Lettered on column "Æt: Sue.24". In comparison to the British Museum copy, this lacks the outer margins, lacking the inscription: "nec me mea fallit" below the oval, and "Guli:Faithorne De: et fe" at bottom right. Portrait of a gentleman, seen to the waist, with flowing hair, dressed in a habit with slashed sleeves and cloak, which he holds in both hands. On the right is a coat-of-arms bearing three unicorns. Approximately 2.75 x 3.25 inches. White matting with holograph pencil notes, housed in a folder with holograph pen notes, not affecting engraving.

    Believed to be one of Faithorne's earliest portraits. One of only two original prints known to exist, the other belongs in the British Museum and is reportedly a defaced copy. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.

    William Faithorne (1616-1691), the Elder, English painter, engraver and printmaker. Portrait engraver to many such as John Milton, Henry Spelman, Oliver Cromwell, Queen Catherine and Charles I. Encyclopedia Britannica describes Faithorne's engravings as remarkable.

    A Descriptive Catalogue of The Engraved Works of William Faithorne by Louis Fagan (Quaritch, London: 1888) reads:

    "The impression in the British Museum, originall in the Mariette Collection, was one of two prints sold at the Lakes Sale, 4th day, lot 640, £22. The lot was purchased by Thans, and re-sold at Sykes Sale, lot 1244 for £19.9 (April, 1824). At Thomas Wilson's Sale, lot 119 it was purchased by Tiffin, for £22.1, it then passed into the hands of Graves, and was ultimately acquired by the Trustees of the British Museum, in 1858.

    "The following memorandum, by Mr. H. W. Bruton of Gloucester, was received by the writer of this Catalogue, in November, 1886 - "On the 10th July, 1884, the members of the Gloucester Cathedral Society visited... the Church and Castle of Kilpeck. After hearing papers read by the President and the others on the Castle and Church, the members strolled through the village and in a cottage discovered, hanging over the fireplace, a portrait of a young Cavalier engraved on a copper plate. The occupier of the cottage stated he had dug it up some years ago on the site of the Old Castle, and having expressed his willingness to sell it, it was purchased by Mr. H.W. Bruton, who was agreeably surprised to find it was the work of Faithorne.

    "The plate had been worn by frequent rubbing, probably had been subjected with candlestick, etc. on the mantelpiece, to a weekly polish by the wife of the cottager. Mr. Bruton sent the plate to Mr. Truman, who identified it as the portrait engraved in fac-simile on the page 267 of Wilson's Catalogue Raisonne, published in 1828. The plate was carefully restored by direction of Mr. Truman, and Mr. Bruton then allowed the plate to be used for one of the illustrations of Part II, p. 158 of the Gloucester Cathedral Society's Transactions". In this publication (Fagan), the Rev. William Bazeley, tells us as follows - "In the above description, the tincture of the chevron is wrongly given. In the fac-simile by Sawyer, as well as in the copper plate, it is sable. On referring to Papworth's British Armoury, I find the following coat-of-arms given by him - Arg. A chev. betw. three unicorns sa. Monington, Sarnesfield Court, Co. Hereford. No mention is made of the arms of Roger's of Devonshire, nor any other family save Monington bearing a chevron between three unicorns... The fact that Sarnesfield and Kilpeck are both in Herefordshire.... leads me to believe that the portrait represents one of the members of the family of Monington who lived during the Civil War.

    "William Faithorne, the engraver, at the breaking out of the Civil War in 1642, espoused the cause of Charles I, and accompanied him on his travels. He was made prisoner at the sacking of Bassing House by Crowmwell in 1645, and confined in Aldersgate prison, after a while he was released and sent abroad . The costume of the figure leads me to think that it was one of the earliest of Faithorne's engravings. The Moningtons also sided with Charles I, and suffered in his service. Perhaps Faithorne met Edward Monington at Raglan Castle and engraved his portrait during his visits there with Charles I, between the third of July and the fifteenth of September, 1645.

    "The plate was handed over to its purchaser at once, and he lost it during the siege and destruction of Kilpeck Castle in the latter part of the same year. The portrait, a fac-simile of which appears in the Catalogue Raisonne, was the only proof which had been previously struck off. Mr. H.W. Bruton, in order that the copies printed for the Records should become valuable, defaced the original copper plate, which he afterwards presented to the Trustees of the British Museum in 1887."

    BM: 1858, 062.192. Fagan 17.



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