S. Arlent Edwards Mezzotint of Piero della Francesca Portrait
An original early-20th century single-print mezzotint engraving in color by American artist Samuel Arlent Edwards (1862-1935), after an antique portrait by Italian Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca (1415-1492, possibly titled Elvira. This print depicts the profile of a young woman with a stunning red and green gown and delicate pearls around her neck and in her hair. The artist’s signature and an indecipherable phrase that begins with ‘Engraved and printed…’ are written in pencil in the lower margin. The print is presented behind antique glass in a stunning highly-embellished gilt frame. A sticker on the verso gives the title and artist’s name, though both are slightly ripped away, making them impossible to fully read.
This print exhibits the full capabilities of the mezzotint medium, one of the most hallowed traditions of printmaking. The copperplate is masticated with a sharp ridged bevel called a rocker so that it’s surface will absorb ink like a sponge. The rough surface is then burnished back to varying degrees of smoothness to reveal the desired image. Engraved line is used many times to outline the drawing before the plate is rocked. Engraved lines are deeper than the lines made by the rocker so they may be seen through the heavy texture.
-water damage in lower and upper right corners.