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Rare 16th Century Watercolours

What gets me excited, wonderful things! In particular, rare 16th-century watercolours.

I was once told that I only got up for two things in the morning, otherwise I would stay abed all day (wouldn’t that be great)?  One is Egypt of course, I think I’m the only person in the world that can be tearing down the road and see a Nefertiti statue in a window, or an Egyptian couch on the second floor of a gym, and drive at the same time!

I will however, get up for Rare 16th century watercolours.

Rare 16th century watercolours - Unknown man in the robes of a learned scholar
Rare 16th Century watercolours - Unknown man in the robes of a court cleric

Vellum & Oak

The other thing that gets me up in the morning is what I call “wonderful things”.  Howard Carter of course said this to the Earl of Carnarvon when he was opening the sealed door to the anti-chamber of Tutankhamen’s tomb.  Can you imagine the Earl’s frustration waiting there to see if it was empty or a major discovery?

Well my wonderful things is pretty much a discovery I made about two years ago of these three little watercolours.  (Described elsewhere on my webpage).  They were sadly framed in some old 70’s frames, with dinghy brown mattes and were not very bright at all.  Trepidatiously I de-framed them, thinking they were nice but it was hard to see the quality under all that dusty glass.  When I popped out the paintings I realised they were very old as you could see the paper was actually vellum (vellum is an early form of paper made of very fine animal skins) on the back was some very hard to read writing I could make out the framers notes and a name on the court gentleman in a feathered hat.  Also they were gently sitting on little boards of oak.

The 1st Marquess of Worcester

We now know they are of Stuart courtiers, the feathered gentleman is Henry Somerset, 1st Marquess of Worcester. A marquess is higher than an earl and the next down from a duke. This watercolour is based on an earlier work in oils, there are several of this painting that have been copied and it must have been most admired.

This is when I started getting very excited as they were obviously very old, Tudor maybe? I was close as they have now been tested by Grimwade Conservation Services an arm of our wonderful State Library of Victoria.  As they found traces of titanium in the court gentlemen, we knew straightaway that that one at least was post 1800 when titanium paint was first used in artists paint.

Museum Glass Reframing 

Taken to my favourite framer, Antonio’s of Ashburton and framed up in museum glass and gilt frames they positively gleam like jewels.  The features and expressions of each face, the modelling of collars and hand, the sparkle in the eyes all show the work of an artist of great skill, although sadly unknown.   

I hope you enjoy these rare 16th century watercolours as much as we have; but now sadly they are moving on to a new owner who I know will treasure them as I have. 

Rare 16th century watercolours - Henry Somerset, 1st marquess of Worcester

View at the ANZAAB 51st Rare Book Fare

These rare 16th century watercolours will be available for viewing and purchase at the up-coming ANZAAB 51st Rare Book Fair at Wilson Hall, Melbourne University on 27th July 6-9pm, 28th July, 10am-5pm, and 29th July.  

Price per painting is $5,000.

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Ankh Antiquarian Books established in 1989, specialises in rare Antiquarian books and new books on the subject of Ancient Egypt and History. Our range of magazines include KMT A modern journal of Ancient Egypt (USA), Egyptian Archaeology Bulletin (the EES UK magazine) and The Nile, an Australian based magazine printed in the UK.

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