Abraham and the Angels (after Titian)


John Skippe (1742-1811), The Three Angels Before the Kneeling Abraham (after Titian), chiaroscuro woodcut, c. 1783. References: Nagler XVI 476,2; Le Blanc III 529, 2. [inscribed lower right “Titian in. JS. scl.”]. In good condition, trimmed just at or within the printed borderline, mounted to old watermarked laid album paper. 7 7 1/6 x 7 7/16 inches.

A fine impression, printed in four blocks (light brown, brown, grayish green, dark brown).

Provenance: ex Collection Mr. and Mrs. Percy Simmons

Exhibited: Beyond Black and White: Chiaroscuro Prints from Indiana Collections, Indiana University Art Museum (1989); Indianapolis Museum of Art (1990). Number 54 in the catalogue of the exhibition.

Skippe was rather liberal in attributing the drawings in his collection to great artists; in this case the attribution to Titian has been re-assigned by Popham to “seventeenth century Italian school.” The drawing was in reverse of Skippe’s print.

Skippe was a “gentleman antiquarian” who traveled widely, collecting drawings which he later used as the basis for his chiaroscuro woodcuts. His intent was to replicate the Italian manner of Ugo da Carpi, and perhaps even encourage a re-birth of chiaroscuro woodcut printing.  His prints were a great success, but the re-birth of the medium was not forthcoming. Skippe was not focused on the commercial possibilities of the medium, sharing his prints only with appreciative connoisseurs and colleagues.  He created a number of folios of prints; the number is unknown but they are rare, and were of varying sizes. In the United States there are two folios at the Yale Center for British Art (one of 31 prints, the other containing 20); another folio of 42 is at the Cincinnati Museum of Art, and finally a folio of 28 is at the University of Chicago.