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Bartolozzi - A rare stipple-engraving of a young Domenico Dragonetti with his Gasparo da Salo bass

 

Bartolozzi - A rare stipple-engraving of a young Domenico Dragonetti with his Gasparo da Salo bass

Bartolozzi - A rare stipple-engraving of a young Domenico Dragonetti with his Gasparo da Salo bass.

Click on the image for a zoom view!

Is this an original engraving?

Yes indeed - this is an original engraving that dates from circa 1780. It is signed F. Bartolozzi R.A. del.

I've seen the image in articles on Dragonetti. Why is it so rare?

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.

In what publications is the image reproduced?

  1. 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).
  2. 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)
  3. The 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)
  4. 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.

Can you remind me briefly of how important Dragonetti was in the history of the double bass?

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.

Can you remind me of how Dragonetti came into possession of his Gasparo da Salo bass?

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.

Tell me about Fransesco Bartolozzi

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.

Tell me about Bartolozzi's London period.

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.

Tell me about Stipple Engraving.

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 century.

Tell me a little about his production.

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.

Why should I be interested in this work of art?

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.

Stats:
Frame size: 37.8cm x 29.5cm x 1.6cm

Price: Bartolozzi Rare Stipple-Engraving of Domenico Dragonetti UK £6500-00

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