Bartolozzi - A rare
stipple-engraving of a young Domenico Dragonetti
with his Gasparo da Salo bass.
Click on the image for a zoom view!
Yes indeed - this is an original
engraving that dates from circa 1780. It is signed F. Bartolozzi
The image is familiar to bass players and
enthusiasts all over the world because it has regularly been
used in articles and publications about Dragonetti. It is
probable however - that there are only a handful of these
engraving in existence in the world today. Shoppe Director
- Anthony Houska has the one that was formerly in the collection
of Raymond Elgar. Another example is housed in The Royal
College of Music, London.
- The image is reproduced as the frontpiece
in the pioneering double bass book by Raymond Elgar More
About The Double Bass (First published by the author in
1963 and subsequently reprinted in 1969).
- The image is
reproduced on page 117 of the highly researched and informative
book Domenico Dragonetti in England (1794-1846) by Fiona
Palmer (Claredon Press, Oxford 1997 - ISBN 0-19-816591-9)
image is reproduced on page 375 in the voluminous work
(917 pages plus foreword) entitled Geschichtte Des Kontrabasses
by Alfred Planyavsky (Hans Schneider, Tutzing 1984 - ISBN
3 7952 0426 7)
- The image is reproduced on page 59 of
the Spring/Summer 1996 issue of the Double Bassist (Orpheus
publications Ltd) This was Issue No 1 - the very first
Double Bassist magazine to be produced. The article is
entitled The Dragon's Allure and was written by David Heyes.
Yes - Domenico Dragonetti (Born Venice 07th
April 1763. Died London 16th April 1846) the noted Italian
double bassist, changed the status of the double bass during
the course of his career. He was one of the greatest virtuosi
of the double bass that ever lived. He performed to sell
out audiences, he taught, he composed numerous works for
solo double bass and he was a major contributor to the development
of the convex bow that was named after him. As a result of
the great interest that Dragonetti created - popularity of
double bass playing soared during the early nineteenth century.
This in turn created a huge demand for instruments to be
made and double bass making flourished. The fine instruments
that we see today by makers such as Panormo, Lott, Fendt,
Forster, Betts and Kennedy are a direct legacy due to the
influence of Dragonetti.
There are various stories of how Dragonetti
came into possession of the famous Gasparo da Salo bass.
The fascinating and highly commendable biography "Domenico
Dragonetti In England" by
Fiona M. Palmer (Clarendon Press Oxford 1997) seems to offer
the most plausible account; Because of Dragonetti's unprecedented
virtuosity as a soloist, attractive offers of work were made
from both London and Moscow. As remuneration for renouncing
the offers and remaining as principal bassist with the orchestra
of the Ducal Chapel of St Mark's in Venice (an orchestra
of considerable importance) a decree made in 1791 gave Dragonetti
a financial gratuity.
Similarly it is reputed that Dragonetti was
presented with an instrument made by Gasparo da Salo (1542
- 1609) by the Benedictine nuns who occupied St.Peter's monastery
in Vicenza where at the time Dragonetti lived and played
in the Grand Opera. In the Palmer biography a footnote refers
to a 1906 account made by C.P.A. Berenzi who suggests that
the instrument may have been made for the monks of St Peter's,
Vicenza, by Gasparo da Salo, and acquired by the procurators
of St Mark's to entice Dragonetti to remain in their employ.
Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815) was born
in Florence, Italy. He was originally destined to follow
the profession of his father - a gold and silver-smith -
but he showed so much skill and taste in designing that he
was placed under the supervision of two Florentine artists
- Ignazio Hugford and Giovanni Domenico Ferretti - with whom
he learnt painting. After devoting three years to painting
he left to Venice where he studied engraving with Joseph
Wagner. His first productions in Venice were plates in the
style of Marco Ricci, Zuccarelli, and others and quickly
his work began to gain recognition. After a short period
in Rome and then back in Venice he moved to London in 1764.
Bartolozzi lived in London for nearly forty
years. Soon after arriving he was appointed engraver to King
George 111 with a salary of £300 a year. In 1768 he
was elected a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts
and in 1802 became the founding President of the short-lived
Society of Engravers.
Around the time of Bartolozzi's arrival in
London a new printmaking process had been developed. Although
Bartolozzi could not claim its invention, his name is forever
linked with the 'Stipple' engraving. Briefly, a stipple engraving
is created by employing a multitude of flicks or dots rather
than the lines used in etching or engraving. The higher the
density of dots in an area the darker the plate will print
and therefore, the stipple is a tonal as opposed to a linear
method, producing light and dark contrasts.
Francesco Bartolozzi quickly recognized that
this very demanding method of original printmaking was best
suited for decorative works and portraits and scenes displaying
flesh tones. He thus set up his famous London workshop which
published renderings of either sentimental or mythological
subjects, with such well known painters as Francis Wheatly,
Angelica Kauffmann, Cipriani and Diana Beauclerk specifically
creating designs for him to engrave.
Francesco Bartolozzi's success with the stipple
was enormous. He was one of the first engravers granted a
full membership to the Royal Academy of Arts, and in the
last decades of the eighteenth century, a large following
of English and Italian students sat in his studio to learn
his techniques. (Some of his students later engraved the
popular Cries of London series.) Stippling, however, was
destined to live a very short life. It was extremely laborious
and time consuming and soon gave way to the more convenient
and mass produced forms of printmaking in the nineteenth
He produced an enormous number of engravings,
including Clytie after Annibale Carracci, and of the Virgin
and Child, after Carlo Dolci. A great proportion of them
are from the works of Cipriani and Angelica Kauffmann. Bartolozzi
also contributed a number of plates to Boydell's Shakespeare
Gallery. He also drew sketches of his own in red chalk.
This is a once in a life time opportunity to acquire an
original work from circa 1780 that is well documented, known
and recognized by double bass players throughout the world.
The artist was a member of Royal Academy of Arts, he was
in the service of King George 111 and he is renowned for
his Stipple-engravings. The Domenico Dragonetti engraving
being offered is probably one of only a handful in the
world. Just imagine having it on your wall.
Frame size: 37.8cm x 29.5cm x 1.6cm