“A SUBLIME COMPOSITION”: PROOF SUITE OF 17 LARGE FOLIO ACTUAL-SIZE AQUATINT ENGRAVINGS OF PORTRAITS IN RAPHAEL’S “TRANSFIGURATION”
(RAPHAEL) PARDO DE FIGUEROA, Benito. An Analysis of the Picture of the Transfiguration of Raffaello Sanzio d’Urbino. London: Robert Bowyer (Bensley and Son), 1817. Large, slim folio (17 by 23 inches), original blue-gray paper boards rebacked in blue cloth, original wood-engraved cover label. $2200.
First edition in English, with suite of 17 fine and dramatic aquatint engravings, in proof state, by Gaubaud after Raphael’s religious portraits in his “Transfiguration,” with commentary by Vasari, Mengs, Reynolds, and Fuseli.
This English edition of Benito Pardo di Figueroa’s analysis of Raphael’s “Transfiguration” was translated from the French edition of 1804 (which in turn was translated from the Spanish), and contains 17 plates of heads, “traced from the picture, and finished of the same size,” by Gaubaud, artist in residence to the Prince of Orange. The “Transfiguration” was Raphael’s last painting, left unfinished upon his premature death in 1520, and is believed to have been completed by his pupil, Giulio Romano. The picture is now housed in the Pinacoteca Vaticana of the Vatican Museum. “Raphael did not paint the standard interpretation of the story, as he combines it with the story of The Healing of the Lunatic Boy… In the Gospels the possessed boy was brought to the apostles to be freed of his demonic possession. However the twelve apostles, “small and impotent,” were unable to cure the sick child until Christ arrived. The Transfigured Christ, to whom one of the apostles points, is the only help; only he can heal the pains of this life” (Robin Urton). Vasari called this painting “Raphael’s most beautiful and most divine” work. Each plate is printed on India paper and marked “Proof.” Graesse VI, 28.
Text and plates fine, with only minor flecks of foxing, light edge-wear to original boards. A splendid copy.