The Miraculous Draught of Fishes thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E , Case DR, Shelf 48

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes

Print
late 17th - early 18th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This image represents the earlier of the two Miraculous Draughts of Fishes in the bible. Christ, Peter and another disciple sit in Peter's boat, which is full of fish. In a second boat are three more disciples pulling in their net. The boats are low in the lake because of the large haul of fish. The fish depicted are recognisable as deep water fish, and therefore in keeping with the biblical description of this miracle.

The townscape, though not an accurate depiction, combines buildings which would have been recognisable to people in Rome at the time, including the Leonine wall, part of the medieval Vatican, and several recently constructed churches, the Torre de' Conti and the area known as the Borgo dello fornaci with its furnace, from which smoke can be seen issuing.

The so-called Raphael Cartoons, which this print reproduces, are seven full size designs for tapestries by the great Italian Renaissance artist Raphael (1483-1520). They illustrate passages from the Bible concerning the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. None of them is smaller than ten feet high by thirteen feet wide. They belong to Her Majesty the Queen and have been on loan to this museum since 1865. The earliest print relating to the Raphael Cartoons dates from 1516, the year in which Raphael received final payment for the commission. It inaugurates an extraordinary case study in the history of printmaking, stretching over more than four hundred and fifty years and across a wide range of printmaking techniques.

Nicholas Dorigny's prints were the subject of an editorial in the 'Spectator' on the 19th November 1711. "These invaluable pieces are very justly in the Hands of the greatest and most pious sovereign in the World; and cannot be the frequent object of every one at their own leisure; but an engraver is to a painter, what a printer is to an author it is worthy Her Majesty's name, that she has encouraged that noble artist Monsieur Dorigny to publish these works of Raphael." Writing in 1722 about the works of Raphael in Rome, Jonathan Richardson said "That I should write upon what I never saw may appear strange to some; Such may please only to obeserve that My remarks are chiefly upon the way of thinking itself."

The engraver and antiquarian George Vertue had met and spoken with Dorigny. Vertue records that "several gentlemen of note travelling to Rome there found Mr Dorigny who was then in the highest reputation for several engraved works after Raphael. These got him justly the reputation of the first engraver in Europe for which reason several Curious persons persuaded & engaged him to come to England to undertake those Famous Cartons at Hampton Court painted by Raphael...From his coming to England [in 1711] I may justly date the rise of the reputation of the engraving."

The first proposal was that Dorigny engrave the Cartoons for the exclusive use of Queen Anne as presents for the nobility and visiting diplomats. Dorigny's price for the work of £4000-£5000 meant this idea was quashed and the prints were sold by subscription at four guineas a set. Dorigny was provided with limited royal patronage in the form of lodgings at Hampton Court, coals, and a bottle of wine a day.

The lettering in this set of prints is entirely in Latin underlining how they were aimed at an elite educated market. Listed are the titles, biblical quotations, details of the lcoations of the Cartoons and their sizes.

Queen Anne had died while Dorigny was still at work. On the first of April 1719 Dorigny presented to King George I two sets of his newly completed prints of the Cartoons. On the 13th June 1720 Dorigny received a knighthood. He was the first of only two individuals in the history of British art to be knighted for having made particular prints. The other was Sir Robert Strange, knighted in 1787 for an engraving of Benjamin West's 'Apotheosis of the Princes Octavius and Alfred'.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional Titles
  • Pinacotheca Hamptoniana (series title)
  • Raphael Cartoons (generic title)
Materials and Techniques
etching and engraving on paper
Brief Description
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Sir Nicholas Dorigny (1657-1746); from a cartoon by Raphael for the tapestries in the Sistine Chapel; etching and engraving; British; 1719.



The V&A holds two other sets of the Pinacotheca Hamptoniana; see Museum No. E.656-1996 (bound volume) and Museum Nos. 20282 to 20289.
Physical Description
The setting is the Sea of Galilee and the event is the earlier of the two Miraculous Draughts of Fishes.



Christ sits on the right of the image. He sits in Peter's boat with Peter and another disciple. The three disciples in the other boat are still pulling in their net. On the shore in the foreground are detailed depictions of plants and shells and three cranes. Some ravens fly over the lake and two swans are swimming in the lake. In the background to the left is a landscape with buildings and on the far shore are groups of men, women and children.



This print is in reverse of the cartoon from which it is derived but is faithful in compositional detail.
Dimensions
  • Platemark height: 51.4cm
  • Platemark width: 61.5cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Raphael Sanctius Vrbinas Pinxit (left side of lower margin)
  • Eq. Nicolaus Dorigny Gallus Del. & Sculp. (right side of lower margin)
  • MIRACVLOSA AD STAGNVM GENEZARETH PISCIVM CAPTVRA. (Title lower margin, centred)
  • Vt cessavit autem loqui (scilicet IESVS) dixit ad Simonem, duc in altum, et laxate retia vestra in capturam. Et respondens Simon, dixit illi, Praeceptor, per totam noctem laborantes, nihil ceptimus; in verbo autem tuo laxabo rete. Et cum hoc fecissent, concluserunt piscium multitu-/ dinem copiosam, rumpebantur autem rete eorum. Et annuerunt sociis qui erant in alia navi ut venirent et adjuvarent eos. Et venerunt et impleverunt ambas naviculas, ita ut pene mergerentur. Quod cum videret Simon Petrus, procidit ad genua IESV, dicens, Exi a me, / quia homo peccator sum Domine. Lucae Cap. V. (Lower margin)
  • Exemplar asservatur in Palatio MAG. BRIT. REG. dicto HAMPTON-COVRT Long. ped. 13. pol. 1 1/2. Alt. ped. 10. pol. 6. (Lower margin centred below rest of text)
  • 2 (Plate number lower right)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce
Production
later impression, first printed 1719
Subjects depicted
Literary ReferenceBible, Luke, 5
Summary
This image represents the earlier of the two Miraculous Draughts of Fishes in the bible. Christ, Peter and another disciple sit in Peter's boat, which is full of fish. In a second boat are three more disciples pulling in their net. The boats are low in the lake because of the large haul of fish. The fish depicted are recognisable as deep water fish, and therefore in keeping with the biblical description of this miracle.



The townscape, though not an accurate depiction, combines buildings which would have been recognisable to people in Rome at the time, including the Leonine wall, part of the medieval Vatican, and several recently constructed churches, the Torre de' Conti and the area known as the Borgo dello fornaci with its furnace, from which smoke can be seen issuing.



The so-called Raphael Cartoons, which this print reproduces, are seven full size designs for tapestries by the great Italian Renaissance artist Raphael (1483-1520). They illustrate passages from the Bible concerning the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. None of them is smaller than ten feet high by thirteen feet wide. They belong to Her Majesty the Queen and have been on loan to this museum since 1865. The earliest print relating to the Raphael Cartoons dates from 1516, the year in which Raphael received final payment for the commission. It inaugurates an extraordinary case study in the history of printmaking, stretching over more than four hundred and fifty years and across a wide range of printmaking techniques.



Nicholas Dorigny's prints were the subject of an editorial in the 'Spectator' on the 19th November 1711. "These invaluable pieces are very justly in the Hands of the greatest and most pious sovereign in the World; and cannot be the frequent object of every one at their own leisure; but an engraver is to a painter, what a printer is to an author it is worthy Her Majesty's name, that she has encouraged that noble artist Monsieur Dorigny to publish these works of Raphael." Writing in 1722 about the works of Raphael in Rome, Jonathan Richardson said "That I should write upon what I never saw may appear strange to some; Such may please only to obeserve that My remarks are chiefly upon the way of thinking itself."



The engraver and antiquarian George Vertue had met and spoken with Dorigny. Vertue records that "several gentlemen of note travelling to Rome there found Mr Dorigny who was then in the highest reputation for several engraved works after Raphael. These got him justly the reputation of the first engraver in Europe for which reason several Curious persons persuaded & engaged him to come to England to undertake those Famous Cartons at Hampton Court painted by Raphael...From his coming to England [in 1711] I may justly date the rise of the reputation of the engraving."



The first proposal was that Dorigny engrave the Cartoons for the exclusive use of Queen Anne as presents for the nobility and visiting diplomats. Dorigny's price for the work of £4000-£5000 meant this idea was quashed and the prints were sold by subscription at four guineas a set. Dorigny was provided with limited royal patronage in the form of lodgings at Hampton Court, coals, and a bottle of wine a day.



The lettering in this set of prints is entirely in Latin underlining how they were aimed at an elite educated market. Listed are the titles, biblical quotations, details of the lcoations of the Cartoons and their sizes.



Queen Anne had died while Dorigny was still at work. On the first of April 1719 Dorigny presented to King George I two sets of his newly completed prints of the Cartoons. On the 13th June 1720 Dorigny received a knighthood. He was the first of only two individuals in the history of British art to be knighted for having made particular prints. The other was Sir Robert Strange, knighted in 1787 for an engraving of Benjamin West's 'Apotheosis of the Princes Octavius and Alfred'.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • DYCE COLLECTION. A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce. London : South Kensington Museum : Printed by G.E. Eyre and W. Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1874.
  • Le Blanc, Charles. Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes. Paris, 1854-6.
  • Gilpin, William. An Essay Upon Prints., 1768, p. 83.
  • Meyer, A. Apostles in England: Sir James Thornhill and the Legacy of the Rapael Taspestry Cartoons. Exhibition catalogue, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, 1996, pp.27-30, figs 12 and 16 [other impressions exhibited].
  • Dorigny, Nicholas. Pinacotheca Hamptoniana. London, 1719.
  • Shearman, John. Raphael's Cartoons in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen and the tapestries for the Sistine Chapel. London, Phaidon, 1972.
  • Fermor, Sharon. The Raphael Tapestry Cartoons: Narrative, Decoration, Design. London, Scala Books in association with the Victoria and Albery Museum.
Other Number
52 - Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes par Ch. Le Blanc. Paris, 1854-6.
Collection
Accession Number
DYCE.2560

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record createdApril 8, 2010
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