Abraham and the Angels

Abraham and the Angels

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John Skippe 1741-1812
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Chiaroscuro woodcut c. 1781-3

190x187mm [480x346mm]

Reference: British Museum Collection 1853,0611.6; 1923,1015.27 [two variants]

After a drawing originally believed by Skippe to be by Titian (See note below). Printed from three blocks in brown and two shades of green. Trimmed as usual to the borderline and attached by the artist to a very large sheet of laid paper.

John Skippe was an amateur artist and gentleman antiquarian from Ledbury in Herefordshire. At Merton College, Oxford he studied under John Baptist Malchair, Oxford's first resident teacher of drawing. Throughout the late 1760s and much of the 1770s he travelled widely in Europe and North Africa making studies from the old masters and collecting drawings which he used as a basis for his chiaroscuro woodcuts. Undoubtedly he would have known the work of John Baptist Jackson but his own engravings owe more to the Italians, Ugo da Carpi and Antonio Zanetti whose prints he may have encountered in Venice. It appears that Skippe had hoped to revive interest in the chiaroscuro process and to that end prepared a number of folios of prints for sale. The venture was not a success and it can be assumed that many of the sets were given to friends. There are several intact folios in museum collections and a significant holding of his prints in the British Museum.

Note: Skippe's own collection of drawings survived pretty much intact for many years after his death and was eventually sold at Christies in November 1958. The drawing on which this cut is based appeared as Lot 243(A) where it was more broadly described as 17th century Italian.