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Lord  Byron / John  Martin? 
40  Delicately   Coloured  Aquatints










 

Below are a  group of 40 very finely coloured aquatints. Initially I owned 10 aquatints from the same series  acquired by me many years ago together with 3 John Martin mezzotints in an auction.  A few weeks ago November 2021 I was offered and bought a full set of 40 of these coloured aquatints; contained  within  the volume above.  I bought them because the aquatints although unsigned looked like they were work of John Martin and given that the initial 10 aquatints were lotted together in an auction with 3 John Martin mezzotints the previous owner of the first group may have thought the same. 

 

Each aquatint illustrates a verse of Lord Byron's poetry.  Originally there were to be at least 50 plus if the numbering above the image to the right illustrated in the Overview is anything to go by.  This image  is from the original set of 10.  To the right of the aquatint but within the plate mark is the number 50.    I have not seen them but there appears to be 1 set of uncoloured aquatints held by the Newstead collection of Byron material and 1 complete coloured set held, so I am informed  by a customer of Sanders Print shop in Oxford. A few coloured examples were found listed on  World Cat  within a book of Byron's poetry published by W.S.Colman Broadway and A.W. Galagnani Paris.  These are  held by the library in Philadelphia.  There are /were probably a minimum of 4 coloured sets at least.* This figure is based upon the 1 complete set plus 1 duplicate example in Philadelphia library and 1 example  illustrated below to make 3 different examples of the same coloured print.  A 4th example of one of these aquatints was found in the bound volume of 40 coloured aquatints bought by myself  in late November 2021.  4 examples of 1 of these aquatints.  These are all uploaded and can be seen in the order of their appearance in the bound volume I have with the exception of 1 of them.  This aquatint is illustrated  directly below and has been chosen because there is 1 example in the bound collection and 1 in the loose collection. They  are illustrated one above the other.  At first glance they look identical.  Closer inspection shows that they are not quite the same.  Least surprising the colouring as expected with such fine delicate colouring shows slight differences in shade and exact coverage. 

*In May 2023 I was contacted by an individual I shall call K J.  He had bought a further 16 of these coloured aquatints.  There were no previously unknown aquatints in his collection.  All of his aquatints had been "butchered "  The image had been cut to its margins and the text cut out separately and mounted on paper in a scrap album?  The publishing details had been omitted. Tragic as this is there is at least one thing that I learnt from this collection and that is that there  could have been 5 sets in existence at one time.  The aquatint of which I have  3 examples he also has an example which together with the possible complete set I have only heard about  would make 5.       

 

There are though 2 striking differences to be noted. 

Firstly:  The example from the loose collection has been published by Pyall and Stround Hanway Street 1829 whilst the example in the bound collection is published for the proprietor by T. Gillard.   

Secondly:  The first shown has the number 50 engraved within the plate mark but the one in the bound copyis unnumbered.  

     The prints are all  unsigned in the plate by either the artist or engraver and there are no full size original paintings from which these aquatints have been sourced.   The publisher of most of  these coloured aquatints  was Pyall and Stroud  19 Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829.  A few are published for the proprietor by T. Gillard 4 Strand.  

     From my extensive searching I can safely say that coloured examples of these aquatints are very rare.  Black and white examples are occasionally come by and in fact when I last looked there were 4 on sale at Sanders Print shop Oxford.   

    The description given by Sanders print shop suggests that they could have been by Henry Pyall who besides being a publisher executed work in aquatint. Is that likely?  Given the small numbers that these prints exist in, surely if they had been by Henry Pyall he could very easily have printed  the ones that were "published for the proprietor by T. Gillard" himself.  Its the work of a few minutes and would cost him no more than paper ink and a few minutes of time.  It would obviously take time and trouble to arrange printing elsewhere and of course would cost a lot more.    

      15 years or so ago I met a member of the Byron Society and showed him these aquatints.  He had never seen them himself.  He showed reproductions of these to some very knowledgeable members of this society who also had never seen or heard of them. 

   So,  not common.   

I will only publish examples from the bound edition with one exception and that will be the aquatint numbered number 50 for which I will publish both examples. There are small differences in the size of each aquatint but the plate is circa 195mm. by 125 mm.  The text being intrinsic to the image will also be published 

The text being intrinsic to the image will also be transcribed because on a few occasions the text is a little indistinct.   

 

Henry Pyall was a well known publisher and aquatint engraver of his day most famous for perhaps his scenes of the Bury railway.

Stroud:   Who Stroud is, is unknown by me. 

Some of these aquatints are dated 1829

   

Occassionally sheets of paper held to the light have a watermark possibly for Whatmans and the date of 1828.  

   

Some of these prints as mentioned earlier are found uncoloured. This maybe because there were plans for both an uncoloured and coloured edition. It was common to produce  both an expensive coloured version and cheaper uncoloured editions of illustrated books.  

   

It may also be that the money for binding, printing, in fact everything ran out which is why this projected expensive edition of the works of Byron never saw the light of day except in the one 

uncoloured edition held by Newstead Abbey.  Individual uncoloured examples do come to the surface for sale but they are rare.  Coloured examples for sale are in my experience non -existent.

I have looked for many years.   

   

In the early days of research I contacted the British Museum about these aquatints hoping they would be able to supply more information. The member of staff who replied informed me that the B.M. had no examples coloured or uncoloured of their own, and had never seen them before. He went on to say that they were very reminiscent of John Martin and in a few examples perhaps William Blake.

    

I then contacted the Laing gallery who have their own collection of John Martin. The curator there, replied saying that their specialist John Martin expert didn't think that they were by John Martin, they were not good enough according to him and the curator agreed. The curator went on to say that this expert had had some of these aquatints himself, decided that they were not by John Martin, kept a few examples for himself and disposed (sold? I assume )of the rest. I requested images of the ones he kept. I am sad to say that none, sadly were forthcoming.  I have contacted the Laing gallery recently about this latter full set.  Said expert still will not engage.  Excuse my question but Is he really an expert! 

     

Next was the Victoria and Albert museum. A similar story here to the B.M. They had none of their own and had never seen them but they did agree that there was a considerable likeness to work by John Martin. They contacted an expert who I suspect to be the man who advises the Laing Gallery. His name is Michael J. Campbell. As well as being a dealer and publisher he is recognised as the world's leading John Martin expert. His view was that these were not by John Martin but he was unable or unwilling to say who they were by or could be by.

      

What I dislike about these responses in particular is that Michael J. Campbell's word  if it is in this instance Michael J. Campbells word seems to be law. He speaks, he pronounces, and everyone just accepts.   He has not in any way presented his views and reasons for this conclusive decision.  He maybe right, but in my opinion he needs to explain his reasoning.  I would like to hear the arguments.   He could having plenty and having had plenty of other  of his own examples with which to produce a small monograph for those people in his rarefied world who might be interested in his findings. But nothing and in particular nothing for widespread  public impartial scrutiny, and so far as I can make out has no intention of ever doing so.  So nobody questions whether he is in fact correct.  I dont think he is.  

     

For example I have shown these to museum print room staff in the V.and A. and put forward most of my reasons in a way that they found quite convincing so I am not best pleased when an expert does not have to present his evidence for proper examination. All he has to do is to say as in this case that they are not by John Martin.  AND NOBODY CHALLENGES. 

    

Experts can make mistakes. They are I am sure very good when it comes to encyclopedic knowledge of their given subject. There is a problem when they present as truth what is only conjecture, supposition, and theory. Even worse is when it is their own  pet conjectures, theories, and suppositions that are so presented. Their is a basic unwillingness about about to consider or even conceive that they might actually be wrong.  AND finally is if and when they themselves may have made a mistake.  Never as my friend says, whilst they have a hole in their arse will they willingly  admit to making a mistake. 

 

                T H E   4 0   I L L U S T R A T I O N S 

DSC_0630_edited.jpg
Hours of Idleness Lord Byron/John Martin Published by Pyall and StroudDSC_0032_5 (1).JPG

London pub. by Pyall and Stroud  16 Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

Swift is the shaft from Allan's bow,

       Whose streaming life blood stains his side,

Dark Oscar's sable crest is low, 

        The dark has drunk his vital tide

                                                          Hours of Idleness.  Byron                                   

original_5dad73cc-a23d-4e1c-818f-b8c3b642a69b_DSC_1285.JPG

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 19 Hanway St. Oxford St. 1829

Surely that stream was unprofaned by slaughters -

A mirror and a bath for beauty's youngest daughters 

                                                          Childe Harold's Pilgrimage  Byron 

DSC_0033_4_edited.jpg Childe Harold's Pilgrimage Lord Byron/John Martin Published by Pyall and Stroud

London  pub by Pyall and Stroud Grt. Russell Strt. Covent Garden

 

How didst thou dwell in the enchanted cover

Egeria thy all heavenly bosom beating

For the far footstep of thy lover 

                                                               Childe Harold's Pilgrimage 

DSC_0062_3.JPG The Giaour Lord Byron/John Martin Published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud 19 Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829

And with forbidden wine did stain 

The bowl a Moslem must not drain

                                                        The Giaour  Byron 

DSC_1288.JPG

London  Pub. by Pyall and Stroud Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

  Before the guardian slaves awoke

We to the cypres groves had flown

  And made earth main and heaven our our own 

                                                                   The Bride Abydos  Byron 

The Corsair Lord Byron/ John Martin Published for the propietor T. GillardDSC_0032_8 (1)_edited.jpg

London  Pub. for the Proprietor by T. Gillard 40 Strand 

Up rose the dervise with that burst of light, 

 Nor less his change of form appall'd the sight,

                                                                               The Corsair  Byron 

The Corsair Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and StroudDSC_0032_9 (1)_edited.jpg

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden 

And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread,

But gathered breathing from the happier dead 

                                                                                      The Corsair  Byron     

DSC_0032_11_edited.jpg Lara Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

Pubd. Pyall and Stroud Grt. Russell Strt. Covent Garden

Along the strangers aspect fix'd and stern,

Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye could learn

                                                                             Lara Byron 

DSC_0034_3.JPG Hebrew Melodies Lord byron/John Martin Published by Pyall and Stroud

London  Pubd. Pyall and Stroud 16 Russell Street Covent Garden

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,

And breath'd in the face of the foe as he passed,

And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill,

And their hearts but once heav'd and for ever grew still.

                                                                          

                                                                         Hebrew Melodies Byron 

DSC_0032_12.JPG The Siege of Corinth LordByron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London  Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

He started up with more of fear,

Than if an armed foe were near.

                                             The Siege of Corinth Byron

DSC_0032_13.JPG Parasina lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London  Pub by Pyall and Stroud Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

'Tis past -- her lover's at her feet

                                                     Parisina Byron 

DSC_0032_14.JPG The Prisoner of Chillon Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Russell Stt. Covent Gd.

But then alas away it flew,

And then I was mortal -- well I knew, 

For he would never have flown 

And left me so doubly alone.

                                     The Prisoner of Chillon  Byron

DSC_0032_15.JPG The Dream Lord Byron/JohnMartin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Grt. Russell Street Covent Garden

And on the summit of that hill she stood,

Looking afar if yet her lover's steed

Kept pace with her expectancy and flew.

                                                            The Dream, Byron 

DSC_0032_16_edited.jpg Manfred Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 19Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829

The face of the earth hath madden'd me, and  I

Take refuge in her mysteries, and pierce

To the abodes of those who govern her

                                                            Manfred  Byron 

DSC_0032_17_edited.jpg Manfred Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London pub. by Pyall and Stroud 19 Hanway Street Oxford Street. 1829

By the power which hath broken

The grave which enthrall'd thee,

Speak to him who hath spoken,

Or those who hath call'd thee. 

                                             Manfred Byron 

DSC_0032_18.JPG The Lament of Tasso Lord byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud Gt. Russell Street. Covent Garden 

Where I did lay me down in the shade 

Of waving trees and dream'd uncounted

                                                           Lament of Tasso  Byron

DSC_0032_19.JPG Beppo Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 19 Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829

                                                      But all aghast

(As to their palace stairs the powers glide,)

Sate --  Laura by the side of her Adorer

When Lo ! the Mussulman was there before her. 

                                                                             Beppo  Byron 

DSC_0062_2_edited.jpg Mazeppa Lord Byron/John Martin Published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud Grt. Russell Strt. Covent Garden

I saw its turrets in a blaze,

Their crackling battlements all cleft.

                                                          Mazeppa  Byron  

DSC_0030_4 (1)_edited.jpg Don Juan Lord Byron/John Martin Published by Pyall and Stroud

London. Published  for the Proprietor by T. Gillard 40, Strand

 And raising up an arm as moonlight fair.
She sign'd to Baba.
                                    Don Juan.  Byron

20211124_131008.jpg

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

When Haidee threw herself her boy before; 

Stern as her sire.

                          Don Juan , Byron

DSC_0032_20.JPG Marino Faliero Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Grt. Russell Street Covent Garden

Sage. Benintende, now chief judge of Venice,
I speak to thee in answer to you Signor
                                                        Marino Faliero,  Byron

DSC_0033_5_edited.jpg Sardanapalus lord Byron /John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London. Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt Russell Street Covent Garden
 
 Prince Salamenes doth implore the King, 
To arm himself, although but for a moment 
And show himself unto his soldiers.
                                                      Sardanapalus  Byron 

DSC_0059_2.JPG Sardanapalus Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London. pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt. Russell St Covent Garden

                     That royal hand 
Let me then press it once more to my lips.
                                                                   Sardanapalus.  Byron

The Two Foscari lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and StroudDSC_0034 (1)_edited.jpg

London Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud  Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

And masked as a young gondolier, amidst 
My gay competitors noble as I, 
Raced for our pleasurein  the pride of strength. 
                                                                        The Two Foscari.  Byron

DSC_0056_2.JPG Cain Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London. Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829

God the Eternal ! Infinite ! All wise --
Who out of darkness on the deep did make 
Light on the waters with a word -- All hail. 
                                                             Cain  Byron

Cain Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London. pub. by Pyall and Stroud Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829

Go not forth with this spirit; he is not of ours
                                                                       Cain  Byron  

DSC_0038_2_edited.jpg Vain Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt Russell Street Covent Garden

" Art thou not nearer ! look back to thine earth
                                                                               Cain.  Byron            

Cain Lord byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt Russell Street Covent Garden 
                                                             
                   
                  To mark upon thy brow,  
Exemption from such deeds as thou hast done.
                                                                         Cain.  Byron     

Werner Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and StroudDSC_0041 (1)_edited.jpg

London. Pub.by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt Russell Street Covent Garden

I saw like a flash of lightning ( for I saw
A moment and no more,)  what struck me sightless
To all else -- the Hungarian's face.
                                                      Werner  Byron 

Vision of Judgement Lord Byron/ John Martin published by Pyall and StroudDSC_0029_3_edited.jpg
Vision of Judgement LordByron/John Martin Published for the proprietor by T. Gillard

London pubd. for the Proprietor by T. Gillard 40 Strand 

And from the gates thrown open issued beaming 
A beautiful and mighty thing  of Light,
Radiant with glory,
                           Vision of Judgement.  Byron

N.B.  The 2 images above have been repeated for  the purposes of comparison and examination of the differences between the 2 images which maybe of interest.  The 1st image is of the 1 shown on the Overview page. 
 This one is published by Pyall and Stroud 16 Great Russell Street.  In 2022 I bought a further example of this print shown below.  Then in May 2023 I learnt of a further example of this print which had unfortunately been butchered.  The image and the verse had been individually cut out and pasted into a scrap book.   The paper they are printed on is clearly different .  Also for the purposes of comparison it has been slightly enlarged from the uploaded image so as to match the 1 below although in reality it is of course exactly the same image from the same plate albeit with a few slight alterations 

 

DSC_1294.JPG
Heaven and Earth Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud 19 Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829

The clouds from off their pinions flinging.
As though they bore tomorrows light.
                                                       Heaven & Earth.  Byron 

Heaven and Earth Lord Byron/JohnMartin published for the proprietor by T. Gillard

London Pub for the Proprietor by T. Gillard 40. Strand 

                                        In the name.
Of the most High, What art thou
                                                             Heaven & Earth.  Byron 

Heaven and Earth Lord Byron/John Martin published for the proprietor by T. Gillard

London Pub for the Proprietor by T. Gillard 40. Strand                                                                
                                  But their forms,
How lovelily they move along the side
Of the grey mountain, scattering it's mist.
                                                            Heaven and Earth  Byron

N.B.  I have another coloured example published by Pyall and Stroud

Heaven and Earth Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and StroudDSC_0047_edited.png

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

                                And lo! his Mildest and 
Least to be tempted messenger appears!
                                                                  Heaven & Earth  Byron 

DSC_0048_edited.jpg Heaven and Earth Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London.  Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Gt Russell street Covent Garden

                          Lo !  they come,
The loathsome waters in their rage,
And with their roar make wholesome Nature dumb.  
                                                                         Heaven & Earth  Byron

DSC_0049_edited.png Morante Maggiore Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and stroud

London Pub. by Pyall and Stroud Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

And Alabaster he found out below,
Doing the very best that in him lay,
To root from out a bank a pock or two
                                                                  Morgante Maggiore  Byron  

DSC_0050_edited.jpg The Age of Bronze Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London Pubd by Pyall and Stroud 19 Hanway Street Oxford Strt.

The wild Sierra with its wilder troop
Of vulture plum'd Guerillas on the stoop
For their incessant prey --
                                 The Age of Bronze  Byron

DSC_0053_2.JPG Deformed Transformed Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

London published by Pyall and Stroud Gt. Russell Street Covent Garden

What would you ?  Speak!

Spirit or man 

                                                           The Deformed Transformed Byron         

DSC_0054_2.JPGDeformed Transformed Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and Stroud

Pubd. by Pyall and Stroud 16 Grt. Russell Street Covent Garden

                                        Look upon him as 
Greece look'd last upon her best, the instant
Before Paris's arrow flew
                                      Deformed Transformed  Byron

The Island Lord Byron published for the Proprietor by T. Gillard

 Published for the Proprietor by T. Gillard 40 Strand.

And Neuha took her Torquil by the hand,
And waived along the vault her kindled brand.
                                                      The Island.  Byron

N.B.  I have another coloured  example of this aquatint published by Pyall and Stroud

Copyright  Nigel  King Dec. 2021 - May 2023

Updates 

An oversight meant I forgot to include this photograph of the print below.  It is, as can easily be seen of an engraving designed and engraved by John Martin.  My reason for including this image is to draw attention to the engraved script.  It certainly looks very similar to the engraved script in this series of aquatints.  Similar enough to propose that the one engraver did the other.  Check for yourself but begin by looking at the aquatint directly above.  Look at how the capital A of the word AND is formed and compare it to the capital A of the word AND in the image.  Then look at the 3rd print above that begins THE wild Sierra.  Look at the capital T and compare it with the capital T of the word This.  Compare the shape of lower case letter s and the idiosyncratic use of dots in this letter in particular but also others.   Definitely looks the same to me.      

There is however another possible candidate for who might have engraved the script.  His name Frederick Christian Lewis.  He engraved the plates for Sezincote House that John Martin produced the aquatints for.  The script in these is somewhat similar although not totally.  However engraved scripts of Lewis change over time and 10 years after look much more like the scripts above.

original_8ded0d20-7ff8-4cb6-915e-f2f9526ff6f6_DSC_0606 (1).JPG
Childe Harold Pilgrimage Lord Byron/John Martin published by Pyall and StroudDSC_0032_4 (1)_edited.jpg

London pub. by Pyall and Stroud  19 Hanway Street Oxford Street 1829

Surely that stream was unprofaned by slaughters -

A mirror and a bath for Beauty's youngest daughters !

                                                                              Childe Harold Pilgrimage   Byron

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