V(ertue), G(eorge)

A royal family-piece representing King Henry VII of England and his Queen Elizabeth of York (etc) ; A description of four ancient paintings, being historical portraitures of royal branches of the crown of England ; A large ancient painting representing King Edward VI.

(No publisher’s imprint, first item dated 20 December 1740 on f.12, other items later 1740s – early 1750s ?).

Reference: 11564
Price: £435 [convert currency]

Full Description

Small 4to. 3 items in 1. 28ff (printed on rectos only) ; 4ff (printed on rectos only) ; 3 + (1)pp. Contemporary quarter calf, worn at outer corners, rebacked with recent spine. Ink ownership inscription of J(an) V(an)Rymsdyk (died 1790, artist, see ODNB) on title leaf. Outline of old removed bookplate on front pastedown endpaper.

A rare and bibliographically puzzling publication, providing careful scholarly descriptions by the eighteenth century engraver and antiquary George Vertue of a number of sixteenth century paintings of Tudor royalty. All the paintings involved were ones of which Vertue had made engraved copies, and it is evident that Vertue’s intention was that the present publication would provide appropriate explanatory text for his engravings, but engravings and text were of very different format and it cannot possibly have been Vertue’s intention that they should be bound together or marketed together. Although there are three separate pagination sequences, implying that three separate items are here bound together, more careful examination suggests that the first of the items was in fact issued in three separate parts, respectively describing a painting at Kensington Palace (ff 1-4) ; a painting in the possession of the Digby family at Coleshill (ff 5-12, numbered “No.II” on f.5) ; and paintings belonging to the Earl of Pomfret and to the Duke of Richmond (ff 13-28). The date “December 20, 1740” that appears with Vertue’s initials on f.12 provides the only explicit indication of date, but a reference on f.4 of the second item to a portrait of Lady Jane Grey being in the possession of “Algernon, Earl of Hertford” indicate that Vertue was writing that part of his text before Lord Hertford succeeded as Duke of Somerset on 2 December 1748, while Vertue’s engraving of the painting of Edward VI at Bridewell Hospital, described in the final item, was not done until 1750 or 1751. The absence of any publisher’s imprint suggests that the various component parts of this publication were distributed by Vertue personally, each evidently in a very limited number of copies. ESTC records copies in the British Library, the Bodleian Library and three other UK libraries but just the Getty Research Institute copy in the USA (the Getty copy in fact only contains the first 28ff and not the shorter accompanying items).