Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Bartolozzi: Mr Kemble as Richard III

Francesco BARTOLOZZI after William Hamilton

Mr. KEMBLE in the Character of KING RICHARD the Third

A black and white stipple plate engraving by the renowned Italian artist Francesco Bartolozzi after a portrait by William Hamilton, published in London in 1790.

John Philip Kemble (1757-1823) was one of the eighteenth century’s most famous actors. He made his London debut playing Hamlet at Drury Lane in 1783 and spent the next twenty years based at the theatre. He played over 120 characters and became an authority on the works of Shakespeare. This print was published during the period when he managed Drury Lane from 1788 until 1802.

Francesco Bartolozzi was born in Florence in 1728 and died in Lisbon in 1815. He began his working life by reproducing the works of Italian painters but came to England in 1764 where he was commissioned to reproduce Guercino’s drawings in the Royal Collection. After this he turned his hand to stipple engraving, the medium for which he is best remembered. He set up a studio in London from which he produced a vast number of engravings that became known as ‘Furniture Prints’. These were invariably roundels or ovals that would then be cut down to fit a frame thereby making them worth far less to today’s print collector. It is thought that Bartolozzi produced in excess of two thousand different prints but he is perhaps best remembered for his renderings of classical, allegorical and mythological subjects after his fellow Italian artists, Angelica Kauffman and Giovanni Cipriani. These were often printed in sepia, bistre, red or colours and, when found in good condition, have remained immensely popular with collectors and decorators alike.

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