Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Recreating Paintings in 'The Temple of Flora'

Robert John Thornton (circa 1768-1837)
The Queen
 Aquatint, mezzotint and stipple engravings finished by hand
Painter- Peter Henderson
Thornton’s Temple of Flora combines the scientific with the artistic. The images portray the worlds most exotic flowers and plants at the time placed into vast mountainous landscapes creating an overall spectacular sight for viewers. Thornton worked with various painters to create the images in paint, then with the help of engraver James Caldwell to recreate them in print using Intaglio printing methods.

Intaglio, coming from the Italian word intaglione, is an ancient printmaking process dating back to 400 B.C. in which ink is applied to a copper or zinc plate, wiped off the surface than printed under high pressure. Ink that remains in the grooves of the plate is transferred onto the paper from the pressure of the press. These grooves can be physically scratched into the plate via dry point engraving or etched using feric acid. 

Mezzotint, in addition to engraving and aquatint methods, were used to achieve gradation without the use of line or crosshatching. This is a method where the engraver uses a tool called a ‘Roulette’ to make small repeating dots or lines, creating the illusion of shadow and/or light. Small rotating teeth create grooves in the plate for ink to hold which then transfers to paper when run through a high pressure printing press. All of the prints in Thornton's ‘Temple of Flora’ were hand water-colored after printed to get a full range of color. The prints displayed are from Thornton's Temple of Flora, each one painted by a different artist then re rendered on copper using various methods to replicate the depth and color range of the original. 

Aquatint refers to the process of etching the copper plate with acid instead of physically removing material. The ‘etcher’ prepares the plate with a dusting of fine resin, and then heats the plate to fix the small particles. These small particles act as a stop out to the acid which creates tonal regions on the plate. Areas that touch acid will be etched and will have a tone. The longer the plate is in the acid for, the darker the tone. States or stages of aquatint can be added to create multiple shades of color or tones.

Robert John Thornton  (circa 1768-1837)
The Blue Passion Flower
Aquatint, mezzotint and stipple engravings finished by hand
Painter- Philip Reinagle
Robert John Thornton (circa 1768-1837)
The Persian Cyclamen
 Aquatint, mezzotint and stipple engravings finished by hand
Painter- Abraham Pether (1731-1795)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Charming 18th Century Painting of Birds

Christopher Huet (French, 1694-1759)
"Ruffs in a Landscape"
Oil on canvas
Canvas size: 20 1/2” x 17 3/8”
Literature: Christine E. Jackson, Bird Painting - The Eighteenth Century (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1994), p. 76
Christopher Huet’s informal and intimate painting places male and female specimens of the species Philomachus pugnax in their natural habitat of marshy wetlands. The bird was first introduced to the English in 1586 when an anonymous writer published an attack upon the large frilly lace ruffs currently the fashion among Elizabethan men and woman. He scornfully likened these extravagant collars to the ruff worn around the neck of the male ruff bird when in breeding plummage.

Huet’s charming painting was most probably designed to appeal to members of the French aristocracy among whom he found continued employment. He specialized in the depiction of natural history subjects as well the interior decoration of houses. His skills were such that his name can be found along side that of Watteau in the account books of the Prince de Conde documenting work completed at the family castle in 1741.

This elegant painting is now on display at Arader Galleries, at 435 Jackson Street, San Francisco. Please call 415-788-5115 with any questions.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Upcoming Auction & Christopher Columbus Atlas

Watch Graham Arader discuss atlases that dramatically changed our world view during the Age of Discovery on Bloomberg T.V.

These atlases among other historically important works will be coming up for auction this Saturday at 1PM Eastern Time. To download a catalog, please visit our website, or register online at

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Art in the Age of European & American Exploration Auction, April 18, 2015

Arader Galleries in conjunction with Mid-Hudson Auction Galleries will be hosting an Auction of Art in the Age of European & American Exploration on April 18, 2015 at 1 pm at 1016 Madison Avenue, New York City. 

The auction is filled with John James Audubon's masterpieces from two very different works - the first, of course, The Birds of America, has quite a few masterpieces for sale: the Snowy Owl (Lot 14) being the finest.  Audubon’s “Snowy Owl” is one of the most desirable images from his monumental Birds of America: one of his very few nocturnal scenes, and certainly one of the most vibrant and charming full-page illustrations of his 435-plate series.  Other highlights include the beautiful Scarlet Ibis (Lot 10), the Bird of Washington (Lot 18), and finally the Canvas Backed Duck (Lot 7), President Reagan’s favorite, he loved the images with cities in the background.  
The next part of the sale is a continuation of Audubon's "other" work the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America published as lithographs in Philadelphia by J.T. Bowen between 1845 and 1848. This collection of 70 quadrupeds have the finest color, best pull, and right patina of paper and ink, with full margins, and no restoration or repairs. It is a wonderful collection of nature's smaller and more interesting creatures, which can be bought at very affordable prices. The highlights include the Swift Fox, Canada Porcupine, Armadillo, and Tawny Weasel (Lots 21-91).

The sale continues with a lengthy section of framed maps from renowned cartographers such as Ortelius, Mercator, Blaeu, and Jaillot, among many others. There are early examples of world maps, rare manuscript maps, views of American cities such as, New York and Minneapolis, as well as Celestial Charts showing the Zodiac including the most decorative 17th century chart of the heavens, and an exemplary collection of beautiful atlases from the 16th - 18th Centuries.
Additionally, there is a selection of Currier & Ives prints and other Historic and Genre Scenes on paper. Following is a wonderful selection of Natural History Flora and Fauna including engravings from Dr. Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora; or Garden of Nature (Lots 194-201) watercolors for Pierre-Joseph RedoutĂ©’s Les LiliacĂ©es (Lots 202-211), and ), both watercolors and engravings by Jacques Barraband for his Histoire des Perroquets (Lots 212-221).Last is a section of paintings and watercolors including those by Thomas Birch, Charles Wimar, and Edward Moran, in addition to a superb sixteenth-century portrait of famed geographer Abraham Ortelius by Adrien Key, which was the only portrait painted of Ortelius during his lifetime (Lot 235).

Please contact Arader Galleries if you would like to be sent a catalog or if you would like to bid online. We would be happy to assist you.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Audubon's Quadrupeds and Auction on February 28, 2015

Arader Galleries is pleased to be presenting frequent auction opportunities featuring a wide variety of our exceptional inventory. Specializing in Natural History, Maps and Views, Furniture, Globes, originals and prints. Our auctions are perpetually revolving and bringing clients the finest works for fantastic prices. On February 28, Arader Galleries in conjunction with Mid-Hudson Auction Galleries will be hosting another auction. This particular event will feature an exceptional array of John James Audubon's finest Quadrupeds.

In the 1830s, as the final plates were being completed for John James Audubon's monumental Birds of America series, the artist began to gather material for his second and equally ambitious undertaking. Planning to complete the definitive study of American wildlife, Audubon set out to document the animals of North America, and to present them in a format as impressive and sweeping as that he used for his birds.  The result of the artist/naturalist's years of field research, travel, and seemingly endless study was the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, the outstanding work on American animals produced in the nineteenth century. 

 Audubon envisioned that his Quadrupeds would complete his record of the animal life of North America. The artist's enthusiasm at the start of the Quadrupeds was unbounded. In 1840, Audubon wrote to his friend and collaborator John Bachman, “I am growing old, but what of this? My spirits are as enthusiastical as ever, my legs fully able to carry my body for ten years to come…Only think of the quadrupeds of America being presented to the World of Science by Audubon and Bachman.”

 Despite his newly acquired wealth and celebrity, Audubon insisted on executing many of the preparatory drawings and watercolors personally, enlisting a select few to help. The contributors to the project included the Reverand Dr. John Bachman, a Lutheran minister who had been the artist's closest friend and supporter for many years, who wrote all of the descriptions and acted as a scientific editor for the work.  Audubon's two sons, John Woodhouse and Victor, also took critical roles, with John Woodhouse providing portraits and Victor working on the backgrounds. With his sons, Audubon traveled through the Eastern woodlands, and through Missouri to the Rocky Mountains. Together they collected and drew specimens along the Mississippi, as well as in coastal regions of Florida and the East Coast. 

 As Audubon's health and eyesight began to fail, the help of John Woodhouse and Victor became increasingly crucial to the Quadrupeds, now a family project. Audubon managed to complete seventy seven drawings before failing health kept him from his work.  Before he died in 1851, Audubon's sons managed to solicit some three hundred subscriptions for the Quadrupeds.  Together, the three men, along with John Bachman, produced an unequaled record of American wildlife, matching the great combination of art and science attained in the Birds of America. Audubon’s Quadrupeds are wonderfully animated, superbly rendered, and beautifully printed in large format.

The work was published by a respected Philidelphia-based printing house under J.T. Bowen.  Bowen used a newly developed technique of steel lithography, and hand colored each plate with remarkable consistency.

A fine selection of the Quadrupeds of North America, as well as his revered Birds of America are currently on display at Arader Galleries San Francisco. Please stop by our gallery at 432 Jackson Street to view these masterpieces and pick up a copy of your auction catalog today. You can also download the PDF HERE.