Thursday, April 24, 2008

Calligraphy Portraits

calligraphic Bust portrait of William III and Mary in state robes

"Bust portrait of William III and Mary in state robes, in two ovals facing towards each other, printed within calligraphic flourishes; a cutting of the top left corner from a official legal document. 1690s Engraving printed from a single plate on vellum" by William Elder.



Bust portrait of William III in state robes


Bust portrait of William III in state robes (a)

"Bust portrait of William III in state robes, with garter chain, in an oval facing left, printed within a second plate with calligraphic flourishes; a cutting of the top left corner from a official legal document. 1690s Engraving printed from two plates on vellum" (Anonymous).


Portrait of Charles II in penmanship (Sneddon)

"Portrait of Charles II in penmanship, drawn in an oval with calligraphic flourishes on all sides, printed on the Thames in the Frost Fair of 1684 Engraving"

"Lettered with motto round frame, and below ''Invented, performed by command of hand & engraven by John Seddon. Carp not at what you see for tis no more than th'untaught act of one ne'r grav'd before', and 'Printed on the River of Thames, Feb.1683/4'. "

"The bust of Charles is composed of calligraphic flourishes. John Seddon was the leading calligrapher of the time, and master of Sir John Johnson's Free Writing School in Priest's Court, Foster Lane. His portrait was drawn by William Faithorne (Vertue I 140), and was engraved by John Sturt as the frontispiece for his copy-books, such as 'The Ingenious youth's companion' of c.1690 and 'The pen-man's paradise' of c.1695. These were engraved after his work by others. This print declares that it was the first plate he engraved himself, and it probably remained the only one."


Bust portrait of Charles II in state robes


Bust portrait of Charles II in state robes (a)

"Bust portrait of [King] Charles II in state robes, with garter chain, in an oval, printed within a second plate with calligraphic flourishes; a cutting of the top left corner from a official legal document. 1660s Engraving printed from two plates on vellum" (Anonymous).


Bust portrait of Queen Anne in state robes


Bust portrait of Queen Anne in state robes(a)

"Bust portrait of Queen Anne in state robes, with hair piled high, in an oval, printed within calligraphic flourishes; a cutting of the top left corner from a official legal document. 1704/14 Engraving printed from a single plate on vellum" (Anonymous).



Bust portrait of Charles I in state robes

"Bust portrait of [King] Charles I in state robes, with garter chain, in an oval facing right, printed within calligraphic flourishes; a cutting of the top left corner from a official legal document. 1630s Engraving printed from a single plate on vellum with some colouring" (Anonymous).


calligraphy portrait of Johannes Gutenberg

'Jean Guttenberg de Mayence Inventeur de l"Imprimerie. 1436 à Strasbourg'
[Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz, inventor of the Printing Press]
"Lithograph. Portrait by Simon fils [c. 1836], calligraphic border executed by Ald. Berliner. Printed on wove paper." [source]


All but the last of the above images were found in the marvellous British Museum Prints Database.

Doubtless there are more calligraphic portraits to be found in this style but they are fairly resistant to searching (I admit I didn't try tooooo hard). The more esoteric and specific the style or theme, the harder it is to find desirable images, seems to me. More image captions and metadata please!

8 comments :

katie said...

wow - these are stunning

chloe van paris said...

I love your blog
do you want to share link with me ?
have a look to my french art@fashion blog.

Kittybriton said...

Once again, I am reminded of how much we seem to have forgotten. I can't imagine such things being produced today, even for a Frost Fair on the Thames!

Elmsley Rose said...

Portrait of Charles II in penmanship, drawn in an oval with calligraphic flourishes on all sides, printed on the Thames in the Frost Fair of 1684 Engraving"

looks just as if he's poked his head through one of those 'fake portrait backgrounds' you find at fairs! *grin*

Jae Leslie said...

Question: the printed portraits are medallions enclosed within ornamental "copperplate" style calligraphy -- is this in some, or all cases, another printing plate? The portrait composed mostly of calligraphic flourishes does from the description seem to be a master-penman's stunt, who had never cut a plate before, and applied his penwork directly to the plate on the spot. A Happening!

But some of these look like the ornamental penwork might have been applied directly to the pre-printed engraved portrait??

A Curious Calligrapher.

peacay said...

Jae, I can't tell you anymore than you see in the captions. In other words, some of these are printed from a single plate and some from two plates. There is no mention of the calligraphy being applied to the vellum by hand. As I understand it, an engraver who was also a calligrapher would have had to produce these (rather than an itinerant calligrapher having a bash at engraving) - engraving is too specialised and demanding a craft for an amateur to get a result like this. {As far as I know anyway}

(Chloe, sorry, I can't do link exchanges -- there would be no content if I linked up everybody.)

Jae Leslie said...

The detail of these images is really very good. Interesting how collage-like the prints feel with the work of several hands combined -- particularly that Charles cut&paste peeking out of the ornamental penwork. I'm not familiar with the period but on the second portrait of Anne you can see along the cut-off edges the contemporary legal hand writing style of the original document it was cut off from.

Pointed penmanship, executed with metal nibs, continued in the style of those ornamental flourishes, and developed extensively in the U.S. throughout the nineteenth century. (the Arts & Crafts broad-edge calligraphic revival was late crossing the ocean)

Jerry Breen said...

The examples you show are not really calligraphy portraits. Calligraphy is stylized decorative hand lettering. A calligraphy portrait is a likeness of a person composed of stylized calligraphy lettering. I've done 3 of these, portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Mary McLeod Bethune, in which their faces are actually formed by their own words. If you give me an email address, I'll send you samples of them. Right now, I'm working on a new calligraphy portrait of Barack Obama, which I'll post in a few days on my website, www.newbreen.com . - Jerry Breen newbreen@comcast.net

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