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LOUIS PRANG - Chromolithograph LV of a Wine Pot

Baltimore. Louis Prang. Ca. 1895. Original. 18x24.50 cm. Mint. Original chromolithograph LV intended for the catalogue Oriental Ceramic Art Illustrated By Examples From The Collection Of W.T. Walters, one of the rarest and perhaps most sumptuous catalogues ever produced on Oriental ceramics. The emphasis of the work is on the ceramics of China, describing imperial wares as well as export wares, but also has sections on Japan and Korea. It was written and compiled by Stephen Wootton Bushell, the physician to the British legation in Peking who made ceramics his avocation and absorbed and translated many of the Chinese works on this and allied subjects. Walters invited the young physician to his home in Baltimore and persuaded him to write a history of Oriental ceramics incorporating information gleaned from his translations and illustrating the text with porcelains in the Walters collection. Ironically, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) had initially hoped to publish the history and reported to his partner, Charles Webster, that the Baltimorean was prepared to pay a quarter of a million dollars for the project and that the publisher would be allowed to retain the profits (Johnston, W.R.; William and Henry Walters The Reticent Collectors). The accuracy of the illustrations was of overriding concern to Walters. He eventually chose to have Louis Prang of Roxbury, Massachusetts to provide the lithographs. Prang’s firm specialised in chromo’s of paintings by American landscape painters and in Christmas cards. Although Prang was given carte blanche in regard to expenses, nothing would be accepted that could not pass Walters severest criticism. Walters wanted pure and realistic perfection! The artists chosen to execute the preliminary watercolours, James Callowhill and his 3 sons, were members of a large English family that had been associated with the Royal Worcester Porcelain works and were known for their Japanese and Chinese inspired designs. Walters provided them with accommodations in his house and converted the second-floor library into their studio, with the window facing north for the light. The Callowhills frequently recorded reflections of the buildings across the square as highlights on the glazed surfaces of the porcelains. The Prang plates have been acknowledged as masterpieces in the art of colour lithography. To capture the nuances in tone and the glossiness of the glazes, Prang used as many as 32 lithographic stones for each plate. Overall, 2000 stones were employed in the project. William, r. Johnston, biographer of Walters and his son, Henry, states that although a limited edition of 500 copies were intended, it is unlikely that more than 200 sets were actually produced! Commenced in about 1879, it took over 15 years to complete this massive catalogue that is considered to be the highlight in the history of American 19th century printing. Unfortunately William Walters died 2 years before its completion never seeing the end result. Almost all copies were given to major institutions, heads of state and friends of W.T. Walters and quickly disappeared from the market. This publication was both a catalogue of the collection and a work of art unto itself. When the book was released it immediately set a new standard for both the understanding of East Asian ceramics and for the art collection catalogue. To this day it remains a monument of great importance in the history of chromolithography and documents the foundation of one of America's greatest collections of Asian porcelain. In 2003 we found a large collection of these chromolithographs stored in a house in Baltimore. It was apparant that these were indeed the plates that were intended for the completion of 500 catalogues but were not used in the end. Complete sets of the book now sell for Euro 25.000 - 30.000 !.
EUR 100.00 [Appr.: US$ 113.02 | £UK 85.75 | JP¥ 12423] Book number 16194

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Meijering Art Books
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