Mezzotint After a Drawing by Claude Lorrain


Richard Earlom (1743-1822), etching and roulette, mezzotint, 1776, after a drawing by Claude Lorrain (Claude Gelee), number 135 from the Original Collection of the Duke of Devonshire, 1776, published by John Boydell. [With the lettering in the plate Claude le Lorrain delin at left, the Boydell address center, R. Earlom fecit right, and below the lettering From the Original Drawing in the Collection of the Duke of Devonshire, No. 135]. In generally good condition, with margins (a stain upper right edge well away from image), printed in sepia on a laid paper with a watermark 1809, 8 1/4 x 10 1/4, the sheet 10 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches, matted.

A very good impression.

Richard Earlom was a master printmaker, specializing in the mezzotint. In 1774 the Duke of Devonshire lent his collection of Claude drawings to the publisher Boydell for the purpose of having them engraved, and Boydell commissioned Earlom to do this job. It took about three years, and resulted in several volumes entitled Liber Veritas – the same as the title for the collection.

To create the look of the original drawings Earlom started with etching, then used the roulette tool which he was familiar with in his mezzotint work to create the wash tones.  It appears that in certain areas Earlom would scrape the roulette work, using a conventional mezzotint technique, to create areas of solid wash with varying intensities of darkness and light. The plates were then printed in a sepia ink, similar to the bistre of the drawings.

The impressions were printed in a number of editions; the watermark 1809 suggests a printing of that date. Earlom died in 1822.