A Renaissance masterpiece with iconic portraits which bring the Tudor court alive.
“This magnificent work is surely the finest early example of English colour printing” (Ray English 19).
In 1792, John Chamberlaine, antiquary and keeper of the King’s drawings, embarked on a project to create a work that celebrated the skill and mastery of Hans Holbein some two hundred years after his death, bringing together 84 of Holbein’s magnificent portraits of influential figures in the court of Henry VIII. Chamberlaine employed some of the best engravers of the time, including Florence born Francesco Bartolozzi, engraver to King George III. Originally released in 14 parts between 1792 and 1800, the work was heralded by the Monthly Review as “One of the most magnificent books that we have ever seen”. Bartolozzi’s engravings take centre stage in this work, replicating the majesty, finesse and accuracy of Holbein’s original portraiture.
The additional 8 plates form the work entitled: Court of Francis II. “All published of an intended continuation to Chamberlaine’s Imitation. It will be noticed that all eight are without dated imprints, and it is therefore probable that no copies were issued to the public until the stock was acquired many years later by Messrs. Bohn, who added them as a supplement to copies of the earlier work.” (Abbey 206). Of particular interest is the fine plate of Mary, Queen of Scots.
This beautiful copy bound in exquisite green morocco by the eminent binder George Rutland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne around the 1870’s.
Folio (57 x 43.5 cm.), extra-illustrated with the eight plates by Holbein for the court of Francis II and accompanying letterpress, in total 92 stipple-engraved plates printed in colours by F. Bartolozzi , C. Metz , C. Knight  and 4 unsigned, after Holbein, 7 of the plates are printed on pink paper, 19 plates are laid in and on thicker paper. The plates are in various states, including four before the letter and 7 in second state including the portrait of the Lady Mary. Plates 75 & 76 (the miniatures of Henry and Charles Brandon) on one sheet. Full green morocco gilt by Rutland, boards ruled in gilt with gilt floral decoration, spine with seven raised bands,all edges gilt, some offsetting from plates, minor scattered foxing, a most handsome example.
Abbey Life 205-206; Brunet III, 259-260 (‘ouvrage magnifique’); Lewine pp. 243-4; Lowndes p.405; Ray England 19.