Stock No. 1123BS
Oeuvre de Jean Holbein ou Recueil de Gravures d’Après ses Plus Beaux Ouvrages, accompagnés d’Explications Historiques et Critiques et de la Vie de ce Fameux Peintre par Chrétien de Mechel, Graveur de S. A. S. Monseigneur l’Electeur Palatin, et Membres de Diverses Académies. Première Partie, Le Triomphe de la Mort. A Basle chez l’Auteur, 1780. Dedication to George III. This work contains Mechel’s interpretation of the ‘Dance of Death’, and is the first part of a four part work of Holbein’s designs. Folio (364 x 286 mm.), pp. 12, , plus 14 plates. The first 12 plates contain 46 copper engravings or etchings of the familiar scenes together with two others engraved after Holbein’s drawing of a decorated dagger sheath. The last two plates are unconnected with the Dance of Death, and show Federico Zucchero’s copies of Holbein’s originals entitled The Triumph of Riches and The Triumph of Poverty. Bound in early 19C. half roan (?) over marbled boards, marbled endpapers, the original wrappers bound in. Bookplates of John Proctor Anderdon of Farley Hall, Berks. The binding is worn but still quite solid. Internally the text is uniformly lightly browned, the plates white but with occasional light foxing, mostly marginal. The tissue-guards have been removed. There is a short closed tear (no loss) in the edge of the title-page, which also lacks its top right-hand corner. There is a small library stamp on the verso of the title-page. There are barely visible library blind-stamps on the bottom right-hand corners of four of the plates, well away from the engraved area.
Chrétien de Mechel (1737-1817) was an engraver, art connoisseur, and printseller in Basle, Holbein’s home town. He was offered drawings purporting to be Holbein’s originals of the series which he refused, but later borrowed them to engrave these plates. However, it is now established that these drawings were not by Holbein, but Peter Rubens. The engravings of the dagger sheath, on the other hand, were taken from original drawings by Holbein in Mechel’s possession.