|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 248 x 350 mm|
An uncommon allegorical mezzotint, with early hand colouring, representing 'Poetry'. 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.
'Poetry' is represented by six figures either reading or writing. A figure of a young man in the foreground composes his own verses, with copies of Virgil, Homer, and Paradise Lost surrounding him, while his fellow at the left of the scene gestures towards a basso-relievo of Milton on the front of a large statue base. In the background, a gentleman reads to a pair of young ladies out for a walk while another young man in the right corner of the scene reads a volume of poems in front of a fountain topped by a herm and an urn.
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. Small patches of insect damage and punctures to the tree at top left and the copy of 'Homer' in the foreground, professionally infilled.