PELLEGRINI, Domenico (1759-1840) - Mariano BOVI (1758-1813). A Graphic History of Louis the Sixteenth, and the Royal Family of France;... London: J.G. Barnard, 1806.

$ 4,500.00

Folio (19 x 14 inches). 6 double-page etched and engraved scenes of the arrest and imprisonment of Lois XVI, Marie-Antoinette and family, all with original hand-colour in full (a bit dusty). Original buff paper backed blue paper wrappers, printed paper label on front cover (edges a little frayed).

A superb series of melodramatic engravings showing the arrest, imprisonment and trial of the Royal Family during the Terror of the French Revolution. First published by the engraver Mariano Bovi after Domenico Pellegrini between October 1793 and May 1796. Pellegrini's version is "more Neoclassical than Benazech's (see 1896,0511.4; 1917,1208.2929 and 1881,1112.258) and may show the influence of Jacques-Louis David's paintings of the 1780s. Pellegrini was a painter from the Veneto who seems to have been part of the engraver Bartolozzi's circle" (National Portrait gallery online).

A major form of propaganda for the French revolutionaries was inexpensive, mass-produced prints, since most of their intended audience could not read. "While counterrevolutionary propaganda was also produced in France during the early years of the Republic, under the Terror engravings and prints of the royal family were seized and printers imprisoned or executed, and consequently the production of royalist images and propaganda shifted primarily to England, along with a large population of aristocratic and sacerdotal émigrés. If revolutionary prints were characterized by their "egalitarian" qualities -- cheap, mass produced, widely distributed, accessible, anonymous -- the counterrevolutionary engravings generated in London took part in a booming print market where they were often produced in hopes of achieving popular success and profit. As early as 1790, the London dealer Hollande was advertising "the largest collection in Europe of political and humorous engravings, with those published in Paris in the French Revolution," along with caricatures by Rowlandson and Gillray.

"The wide appeal of these images in England is witnessed by the proliferation of scenes of Louis' departure from his family,... The English appetite for images of Louis' execution was fueled by exhibits such as the display of a life-size working model of a guillotine in the picture gallery at Haymarket immediately after his death, and Bénazech's 1793 painting of the king's final moments was so enormously popular that Schiavonetti's 1795 engraving was reengraved by Cardon in 1797, which suggests that "the Schiavonetti plate was already worn out." The competition to produce images of these scenes for the eager English public was such that Mather Brown announced that he had already begun work on The Final Interview of Louis the Sixteenth on 1 February 1793 (mere days after the king's demise), and the completed painting was touring towns in the north of England several months later (Cannon-Brooks, p. 99)". (Absent Fathers, Martyred Mothers: Domestic Drama and (Royal) Family Values in A Graphic History of Louis the Sixteenth by Alexandra Wettlaufer). Catalogued by Kate Hunter