Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Green Opie School

Valentine Green after John Opie

A School

24¼ x 20¾ inches

A large-scale mezzotint engraving by Green after Opie; published in London in 1785.

This print represents a remarkable technical achievement for the period as it was very rare to produce mezzotint engravings on this scale. A large sheet of copper would have been worked and reworked hundreds of times to produce this wonderful image and the stark contrast between the velvet black and bright white testifies to the quality of engraving and crispness of the impression. The artist, John Opie (1761-1807) was well known for his genre scenes and, in particular, his use of chiaroscuro: the contrast in art between darkness and light. This print is an exceptional example of this technique.

The image itself is strikingly sentimental. A young boy stands in front of his teacher (possibly a nun) reading from an open book whilst his four elder classmates wait their turn reading and playing with the school cat. In the background an hour glass marks the passing of time before the boys can be released from their studies to play outside.

Valentine Green was one of the most talented and highly regarded mezzotint engravers of his age; abilities recognized in his appointment as Mezzotint Engraver to His Majesty, King George III.


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