|Method||Mezzotint with hand colouring|
|Published||Printed for John Bowles and Son at the Black Horse in Cornhill [London, c.1760]|
|Dimensions||Image and Sheet 250 x 348 mm|
An uncommon allegorical mezzotint, with early hand colouring, representing 'Music'. Originally part of a series of six, the scenes are set within idealised classical ruins with figures demonstrating the arts. The mezzotint series was widely copied and reproduced with varying degrees of accuracy in copper engraving in the decades following John Bowles' originals, by other members of the Bowles family but also by Sayer and the Boydells.
'Music' is represented by seven figures relaxing in a garden setting. To the left, a standing figure plays a flute while a young couple seated on the grass before him follow along with the score open on their laps. A pair of lovers behind them lean in for a kiss, the man holding a flute behind his back. In the background at centre, a pair of young ladies pause to listen while strolling.
John Bowles (c.1701-1779) was a British printmaker and publisher, and a member of the prolific and numerous Bowles family of printmakers. The second son of Thomas Bowles I, he established a publishing house in his own name following the passing of the family business to his older brother Thomas Bowles II after their father's death. In 1752, his son Carington joined the business, which traded under the name John Bowles & Son until 1764, when Carington took over the running of the original Bowles publishing house from his uncle, Thomas Bowles II. John Bowles specialised in mezzotint, especially portraits, though he also produced numerous topographical series and genre scenes.
Condition: Trimmed to plate mark without loss to image or inscription. Strong, fine, early hand colouring. Professionally backed and remargined with archival tissue. Patches of insect damage to the tree at the right hand side of the scene, to the sky above the building at top left, to the dress of the lady at the right, and to the leg of the gentleman and dress of the lady seated at the left, professionally infilled.