Saturday, July 25, 2009

Joseph Priestley Engraving by W. Holl

The next image of Priestley that I have in my collection is an engraving by W. Holl. This is one of my favorites. It hangs, framed, in a very prominent place in my office.

It is 13.2 cm by 10.6 cm. This is a steel engraving attributed to a picture by Gilbert Stewart [sic.] in the possession of J. B. Barclay, Esq. of Liverpool. Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. London. Published by Charles Knight, Ludgate Street & Pall Mall, East. 1833.

I should mention that a very complete list of the likenesses of Priestley from before 1891 can be found in an Appendix to Scientific Correspondence of Joseph Priestley, edited with copious biographical, bibliographical, and explanatory notes by Henry Carrington Bolton, Privately Printed, New York, 1892.  I am fortunate to have the not so rare Kraus Reprint of 1969 of the rare 1892 first edition. 

In any case, this engraving is identified as (29) on page 179 of that list.  The history of the Gilbert Stuart painting is very interesting in its own right. That will be for another post. I might also annotate here the Bolton number of the other likenesses I have already posted where they exist. I have modified the Bolton nomenclature to account for subsequent likenesses appearing after 1892: Wedgwood medallion (49) as first issued in about 1769, sculpted by Flaxmann (I refer to mine as (49.1) since it is a later edition of the same mold). Please note that there were two different sizes of (49). The one I have is the smaller one. The Halliday medallions are listed as (86) and make no distinction between the bronze and block-tin varieties. I see no mention of the P Bemi medallion.  There were many likenesses of the Wedgwood medallion made. There is no question in my mind that the Bemi medallion is a copy of the Wedgwood medallion. I will reserve assigning a Bolton number to this medallion at this time. It might be time to reconsider the whole numbering system.

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