Attrib. Marmaduke Cradock, Chickens - 17th-century engraving with watercolour


An original 17th-century engraving print, Attrib. Marmaduke Cradock Chickens.

An intriguing hand-coloured engraving attributed to the 17th-century English painter of birds and animals Marmaduke Cradock (1660–1716). This is one of a pair of works attributed to Cradock that we have for sale with the provenance of William Drummond (Covent Garden Gallery, London), the renowned British drawings and watercolours dealer. The card mount bears an inscription in Drummond's hand, 'give to BM' (British Museum). There are to date only four known drawings by Cradock, three of which are in the British Museum, and two of which are in watercolour over graphite. All are studies of fowl and relatively small in scale, similar to the present study (see BM 1863,0110.232, 1863,0110.233 and 1863,0110.234, all thought to be Ex. Collection of John Henderson).

Marmaduke Cradock (1660–1716) was born in Somerton, Somerset and moved to London, where he was apprenticed to a house-painter. He was, however, self-taught as an artist, specialising in bird and animal subjects. He depicted individual birds with great accuracy, and studies such as this—likely related to his oil paintings—indicate that he did observe directly from nature. Such authenticity is common in bird paintings of this date, a reflection of an increasing interest in the natural world, and a scientific drive to observe and classify different species. Cradock's work, however, is notable and distinct from many of his contemporaries in that he chose to depict humble native or farmyard species rather than the exotic birds favoured by artists painting for wealthy, courtly patrons. He preferred to work for those who paid him a daily rate, or for dealers, and—according to the antiquarian George Vertue—shunning the direct patronage of ‘Noblemen or Quality … supposing they wou’d confine his genius to their fancy’. As a result, Cradock's work has an accessible and humble appeal, despite his high accomplishment in oil.

This unusual engraving is printed in red-brown ink and appears to be a single-sheet print rather than one of a series reproduced for sale or publication. Although printing in sanguine reached a height of popularity in the 18th century, single colour intaglio prints were in continuous production from the late 15th century onwards. In the 17th-century, intaglio colour printing techniques were particularly practised in Dutch print workshops. Cradock's own bird subjects were influenced by still life paintings of the Dutch Golden Age and artists from or working in the Netherlands, such as Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1636–1695) and Jakob Bogdani (1658–1724). The ink colour in the case of this print was most likely chosen over conventional black for personal artistic reasons, to better represent the birds and possibly the result of artistic experimentation—fitting Cradock's individualist ethos. The extensive hand-colouring of the print further distinguishes the work as unique. Significantly, there is a further graphite sketch on the verso of the paper, which ties the print on the recto to the hand of the original artist.

Cradock died in London in 1717. Soon afterwards some of his works were sold at three or four times the price he had received for them in his lifetime. His oil paintings are now found in a number of public collections, including Tate; Dulwich Picture Gallery; National Trust; Museums Sheffield; and Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.

On laid paper, tipped on to backing paper and further backing card.

Variously inscribed on the backing card, including William Drummond's stock number and 'give to BM'.
Some minor age toning to the paper as shown. The paper as evidently historically been previously mounted and has glue remnants and minor abrasion to the corners on the verso, which do not affect the front. Minor marks and toning to the backing paper and card. Please see photos for detail.
6.9cm x 8.8cm.

Text copyright © 2019 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JP-873

Share this Product