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The Seven Famous Cartons [sic] of Raphael Urbin; Raphael Cartoons

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (made)

  • Date:

    1720 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gribelin, Simon (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.2504

  • Gallery location:

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

  • Download image

The so-called Raphael Cartoons, from which this print is taken, 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. This frontispiece accompanied a reissue of the Gribelin set in 1719, by which time Queen Anne was dead and George I was on the throne. The tone of the lettering seems to be a slightly petulant response to Dorigny's set of prints, asserting Gribelin's prior claim to having engraved the Cartoons.

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

Frontispiece to engravings of the Raphael Cartoons showing the whole series as displayed in the Cartoon Gallery, designed by Christopher Wren, at Hampton Court (1707). Above is the portrait of Raphael in an oval medallion with drapery supported by cupids, and underneath a bust of Queen Anne, between Latin and English inscriptions.

Place of Origin

London, England (made)

Date

1720 (published)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'The Seven Famous Cartons of Raphael Urbin, Drawn / at the Command of Pope Leo the 10th as Patterns for Tapestry; / They were bought by K.Charles the first (at the Persuasion of / Sr. P.P.Rubens (and brought from Flanders into England; / afterwards K.William fix’d them in his Palace of Hampton- / Court in the Gallery here Represented. / In 1707. they were drawn and Engraven by Sim : Gribelin / and by him most humbly Dedicated to Her Late Majesty -'
'S. G. invt. et sculpt. et excudit, 1720.'
SEMPER FADEM / ANNA REGINA.
RAPHAEL URBINAS.

Dimensions

Height: 22 cm sheet, Width: 25.4 cm sheet, Height: 18.6 cm platemark, Width: 21.8 cm platemark

Descriptive line

Frontispiece to engravings of the Raphael Cartoons by Simon Gribelin; engraving; by Simon Gribelin (II); French School; 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.
The text of the entry is as follows:

'FRENCH SCHOOL
...
SIMON GRIBELIN, the younger
Born at Blois in 1661, worked principally in London, where he died in 1733.
...
The CARTOONS after Raffaello, eight plates inclusive of the title.
(1.) Title. "The Seven Famous Cartons of Raphael Urbin," &c., showing the whole series as displayed in the Gallery; above is the portrait of Raffaello in an oval medallion with drapery supported by cupids, and underneath a bust of Queen Anne, between the Latin and English inscriptions. Inscribed “S. G. invt. et sculpt. et excudit, 1720.” Le B.8. 2504.
(2.) The Miraculous Draught of Fishes. Luke, chap. 5. Le B.9. 2505
(3) Christ’s charge to Peter. John, chap. 21. Le B.10. 2506
(4) The Lame Man healed by Peter and John. Acts, chap. 3. Le B.11. 2507
(5) The Death of Ananias. Acts, chap. 5. Le B.12. 2508
(6) Elymas the Sorcerer struck with blindness. Acts, chap. 13. Le B. 13. 2509
(7) Paul and Barnabus at Lystra. Acts, chap. 14. Le B.14. 2510
(8) Paul preaching at Athens. Acts, chap. 17. Le B.15. 2511'

'Le B.' refers to: Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes par Ch. Le Blanc. Paris, 1854-6.
Gilpin, William. An Essay Upon Prints, 1768, p. 80-81.
"S. Gribelin is a careful and laborious engraver of no extensive genius but painfully exact. His works are chiefly small... His manner is formal yet he has contrived to preserve the spirit of his original. We have no copies of the cartoons so good as his. It is a pity he did not engrave them on a larger scale."
Le Blanc, Charles. Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes. Paris, 1854-6.
Miller, Liz. 'From Marcantonio Raimondi to the Postcard: Prints of the Raphael Cartoons'. Display leaflet, 1995.
Includes further reading list.
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.
General text about the cartoons and tapestries.
Fermor, Sharon. The Raphael Tapestry Cartoons: Narrative, Decoration, Design. London, Scala Books in association with the Victoria and Albery Museum.
General text about the cartoons and tapestries.

Exhibition History

From Marcantonio Raimondi to the Postcard: Prints of the Raphael Cartoons (Victoria & Albert Museum, Prints Gallery, Henry Cole Wing 17/09/1995-30/04/2004)

Labels and date

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. This frontispiece accompanied a reissue of the Gribelin set in 1719, by which time Queen Anne was dead and George I was on the throne. The tone of the lettering seems to be a slightly petulant response to Dorigny's set of prints, asserting Gribelin's prior claim to having engraved the Cartoons. [1995]

Materials

Paper; Printing ink

Techniques

Engraving

Subjects depicted

Woman; Man; Putti; Artist; Queen; Raphael Cartoons; Frames; Anne (Queen); Gallery; Hampton Court; Raphael, Sanzio

Categories

Prints; Religion; Christianity

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O239656
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