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“The Artful Disposition of Shades"

The Great Age of English Mezzotints

January 19, 2010, through March 14, 2010
John Dixon after George Stubbs, A Tigress

John Dixon after George Stubbs, A Tigress, 1773, mezzotint. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund and proceeds from “One Night in November,” 2008; 2008.33. 

James Watson after Anthony van Dyck, Paulus Pontius

James Watson after Anthony van Dyck, Paulus Pontius, about 1764, mezzotint. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Guernsey Center Moore 1904 Memorial Fund; PR.987.69. 

Thomas Frye, Ipse (Self-Portrait)

Thomas Frye, Ipse (Self-Portrait), 1760, mezzotint. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through a gift from the Cremer Foundation in memory of J. Theodore Cremer; 2006.53. 

Richard Earlom after Joseph Wright of Derby, A Blacksmith’s Shop

Richard Earlom after Joseph Wright of Derby, A Blacksmith’s Shop, 1771, mezzotint. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund; PR.952.66. 

Valentine Green after Joseph Wright of Derby, Experiment on the Air Pump

Valentine Green after Joseph Wright of Derby, Experiment on the Air Pump, 1769, mezzotint. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through gifts from the Lathrop Fellows; 2008.10. 

Richard Earlom after Jan van Huysum, A Flower Piece

Richard Earlom after Jan van Huysum, A Flower Piece, 1778, mezzotint, etching, and stipple engraving. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Florence and Lansing Porter Moore 1937 Fund; 2009.41. 

John Jones after Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mrs. Tollemache in the Character of Miranda

John Jones after Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mrs. Tollemache in the Character of Miranda, 1786, mezzotint. Collection of Robert Dance, Class of 1977. 

In the century and a half before the advent of photomechanical reproductions in the mid-1800s, mezzotints were the favored medium for publicizing English paintings. Compared to traditional printmaking techniques, such as engraving and etching, the new tonal method was praised by contemporaries for its ability to represent the painterly qualities of light and shadow. Although generations of artist had used prints to heighten awareness of their designs, the establishment of regular public exhibitions in London in the second half of the eighteenth century significantly increased the demand for inexpensive and widely available editions of fashionable pictures. Many painters embraced the picturesque appearance of mezzotints, including Reynolds, Turner, and Constable.
Generously supported by the Bernard R. Siskind 1955 Fund and the Cissy Patterson Fund.
Curated by T. Barton Thurber, Curator of European Art
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