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The Seven Famous Cartons [sic] of Raphael Urbin

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1720 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Simon Gribelin II, born 1661 - died 1733 (printmaker)
    Raphael, born 1483 - died 1520 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    engraving on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:

    DYCE.2505

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case DG, shelf 113

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.

This print is in reverse of the Cartoon from which it is derived. The so-called Raphael Cartoons 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.

Simon Gribelin was the first printmaker to issue a complete set of prints of the Cartoons. When they came out in 1707 they carried a letterpress titlepage dedicating them to Queen Anne. Although they met with success it was nothing compared to that which greeted the set produced by Nicholas Dorigny in 1719.

Gribelin was born in France but came to England around 1680. He was the most important silver engraver in London at the beginning of the eighteenth century. This meant engraving on the surfaces of watches, tea caddies, salvers etc. He was also a printmaker. In the 1690s he published two prints after history paintings by Charles Le Brun, then in 1706 he engraved an altar dish with a scene of the Deposition based on a picture by Annibale Carracci. These may have led to the idea of engraving the Cartoons.

The antiquarian George Vertue wrote in his notebooks "in London about 1700, the state of Print Engraving on Copper was at a low ebb… til about 1707. Mr Griblins cartons in print from the pictures of Raphael were well received, and vast numbers of them [sold]."

As well as visual information each print delivers written information in the form of a caption in English and Latin giving the title, the biblical reference, the names of the artist and the engraver, and stating the location of the Cartoons.

Horace Walpole, writing in 1763, said of these prints "their success was very great having never been completely engraved before; but they were too small a volume, nor had Gribelin anything of greatness in his manner or capacity: His works have no merit than finicalness, and that not in perfection, can give them." Dr. Johnson defined finicialness as "superfluous nicety or foppery".

Each of the individual engravings shows the Cartoon in reverse while the view of the Cartoon gallery shows them the right way round.

In March 1735 Gribelin's son was selling sets of his late father's prints of the Cartoons for 15 shillings. By 1753 they had dropped to half a guinea (ten shillings and sixpence) in the price list of the print-publisher John Bowles. The following year in the catalogue of the print-publisher Henry Overton II, they were listed under "Cheap Sets of Prints".

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. The image is bordered by parallel lines forming a moulded frame.

This print is in reverse of the cartoon from which it is derived but faithfully reproduces the compositional details of the original, while raising the height slightly.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1720 (published)

Artist/maker

Simon Gribelin II, born 1661 - died 1733 (printmaker)
Raphael, born 1483 - died 1520 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes. / Luke Chap:5. / Grav'd by Sim:Gribelin from the Cartoon of Raphael d'Urbin, / in the Royal Palace of Hampton-Court , in the Year 170 [sic] [ ie 1705]
Inscribed on the left-hand side of the print. On the right-hand side the text is repeated in Latin (date numerals on Latin side are MDCCV).

Dimensions

Height: 21.9 cm sheet, Width: 25.2 cm sheet, Height: 18.5 cm platemark, Width: 21.9 cm platemark

Descriptive line

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes; one of a set of seven (DYCE.2505 to 2511) engravings of the Raphael cartoons; engraving on paper; by Simon Gribelin (II); French School; engraved 1707; published 1720.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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.
Vol. II, p. 321.
Miller, Liz. 'From Marcantonio Raimondi to the Postcard: Prints of the Raphael Cartoons'. Display leaflet, 1995.
Gilpin, William. An Essay Upon Prints, 1768, p. 80-81.
O'Connell, Sheila. 'Simon Gribelin (1661-1733): Printmaker and Metal-Engraver', in Print Quarterly. Vol. II, 1985, p. 27-37.
Gribelin, Simon. The Seven Famous Cartons[sic] of Raphael Urbin. 1720
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.

Labels and date

Gribelin was born in France but came to England around 1680. He was the most important silver engraver in London at the beginning of the eighteenth century. This meant engraving on the surfaces of watches, tea caddies, salvers etc. He was also a printmaker. In the 1690s he published two prints after history paintings by Charles Le Brun, then in 1706 he engraved an altar dish with a scene of the Deposition based on a picture by Annibale Carracci. These may have led to the idea of engraving the Cartoons. [1995]

Production Note

later impression, original engraved 1707

Materials

Paper; Printing ink

Techniques

Engraving (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Fish; Crane; Shells; Raphael Cartoons; Landscapes (representations); Miracle; Fishermen; Crowd scenes; Swans; Townscape; Flowers (plants); Fishing vessels; Clothing, Costume; Ravens

Categories

Prints; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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