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Francis Barlow

12 Sep

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Francis Barlow - The Crow and Pot - 1687
Etching - paper 12.3 x 15.2 cm
Good condition - trimmed to plate - slight evidence of old staining
Unframed - Price: £100

FRANCIS BARLOW was an accomplished painter, etcher and book illustrator. He was the leading bird and animal artist in 17th century England. Born in 1626, Barlow holds a significant place in the history of English printmaking as he was the first Englishman to produce a graphic oeuvre of any size and international quality. He was the first artist who depicted animal and sporting subjects, and so it is perhaps not a surprise to see him undertaking to illustrate Aesop’s Fables, designing and producing one hundred and ten separate plates, as well as a frontispiece and title page.

 Produced in 1666, Aesop’s Fables is Barlow’s magnum opus. In the Apologia that accompanied the first edition Barlow revealingly explains that the plates are etched and not engraved as ‘Design is all that we aim at and cannot perform Curious Neatness’ without losing the Spirite, which is the main’.

The full title of the publication was Aesop’s Fables with His Life: in English, French & Latin. The two etchings here are from the second edition of 1687, printed by H. Hills. Virtually all copies of the first edition were destroyed in the great fire of London in 1666. Barlow died in 1704.

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