“A Fruit Piece”, mezzotint print my by Josiah Boydell after a drawing by Joseph Farington, who in turn took a painting by Michelangelo di Campidoglio as example. Published by John Boydell of Londen 1 May 1779. Colourd by a later hand. Size: 30,5 x 35,4 cm.
This fruitpiece of pumpkins, apricots, plums, quinces, apples and figs hung as a painting “In the Marble Parlor at Houghton”. Houghton Hall was the residence of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister. With an eye for art, Sir Robert had built up a beautiful collection, but spent so much money that he left a huge debt on his death. After unsuccessful attempts to sell the collection to the state for the planned National Gallery, the family was forced to sell a large number of paintings to Catherine the Great in 1779. To preserve the collection for England, the pieces were copied and published as prints.
John Boydell, who was specialized in reproducing paintings as prints, was so successful as a publisher that he gave the British print industry a boost that drove French-made prints off the market. From John Boydell’s “Set of Prints Engraved after the Most Capital Paintings in the Collection of Her Imperial Majesty the Empress of Russia, Lately in the Possession of the Earl of Orford at Houghton in Norfolk” we still have a flower piece after Jan van Huysum.