Allegory of Charity


John Hamilton Mortimer after Carlo Cignani.  “Charity.”  London: John Boydell, 1763.  13 1/2 x 19 1/8.  Engraving by S.F. Ravenet.  Very good condition.

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John Boydell, a land surveyor in the employment of his father, was inspired by an engraving by W.H. Toms to leave his home in Shropshire about 1750 and walk to London to apprentice himself to Toms.  After six years, Boydell set up his own shop and thus began his career as one of the greatest of print publishers.  Boydell was much concerned with the French dominance of the European print market at mid-century, and it was mostly by his efforts that by the 1780’s Britain became a print exporting country.  This print was included in a series of engravings Boydell issued between 1769 and 1773, of “The Most Capital Paintings in England.”  Boydell used this series to promote the art patrons who owned the paintings, as well as the English artists and engravers.  A superb example of his work, this shows Charity caring for three needy children.