Monday, October 1, 2012

Basso-Relivo Techniques in the 18th Century

Reliefs employ a sculptural technique to make an image appear as if it were raised above the background. In other words, the image is relieved from the medium. Basso-relievo is a technique invented and popularized by an 18th century Irish artist named Samuel Dixon. A copper plate was used to emboss particular areas of the paper which was then painted over with watercolors and gouache. The end result lends a 3-dimensional effect to the subject and embellishes specific elements. Around 1748, the artist published his first collection of twelve paintings featuring the basso-relievo technique. His paintings featured mostly flowers and exotic birds though his works were not based on personal research but rather sketches from George Edwards' Natural History of Uncommon Birds, published in 1743. Dixon went on to complete three sets of twelve paintings featuring the basso-relievo technique.

An English artist by the name of Isaac Spackman was inspired by Dixon's work and published his own set of basso-relievo paintings in the late 18th century. Spackman followed Dixon's technique extremely closely and drew his inspiration from Edwards' Natural History of Uncommon Birds.

William Hayes followed the method put forth by Dixon but used his own personal sketches to create his basso-relievo paintings. He drew from his two published books; A Natural History of British Birds and Rare and Curious Birds in the Menagerie at Osterly Park, Middlesex. Hayes' paintings not only featured the puffed paper effect but glass eyes as well. The combination of the two give his paintings a strong 3-dimensional look.

Each of these artists produced very few basso-relievo works making these pieces extremely unusual and treasured. All of the paintings are in their original frames. The glass eyes used in Hayes' pieces are also original making these pieces extra special. If you have any other inquiries about these 18th century paintings, please contact Arader Galleries.

No comments: