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GELLÉE, Claude. [Claude Lorrain's 'Book of Truth']
Liber Veritatis; or A Collection of Prints after the original designs of Claude le Lorrain; in the collection of His Grace the Duke of Devonshire. Executed by Richard Earlom in the Manner and Taste of the Drawings... 3 vols. London: Boydell & Co, 1777 (vols 1 & 2) , & Hurst, Robinson & Co, 1819. Folio, matching later half calf gilt, edges uncut; Vol I: mezzotint frontis portrait of Claude, pp. 14 (incl. title), 100 numbered mezzotint plates printed in sepia; Vol II: pp. 5 (incl. title), plates 101-200; Vol III: mezzotint frontis portrait of Earlom, pp. (viii)(incl. title), stipple portrait of Boydell + 100 numbered mezzotints. Complete. Boards worn, some spotting of plates.
A fine collection of 300 mezzotints engraved by Earlom after the works of Claude Gellée (c. 1600-82), better known as Claude (of) Lorraine, a painter who helped popularise landscapes. While still in his thirties his client list included Pope Urban VIII. However this fame led to a number of works being mis-attributed to him, often fraudulently, so in 1636 he started cataloguing his works by making tinted outline drawings of each painting he completed, with the name of the purchaser marked. Six sets of this 'Liber Veritatis' or 'Book of Truth' were sent around Europe, allowing the authenticity of Claude's paintings to be checked. One set came into the art collection of the 2nd Duke of Devonshire, and it was this example that was copied and published by John Boydell, with the text listing the titles, original owners and present owners (if known). The publication must have been a success because the third volume of mezzotints was published over 40 years later and 15 years after Boydell's death, this time from drawing in other collections besides the Duke of Devonshire's. By 1819 Earlom, the engraver of all three hundred landscapes, was 76. In order to reproduce the drawings accurately Boydell turned to mezzotint, a method not often used for landscapes but, printed in sepia, mimicked the pen and wash originals effectively. The result was described by Col. Abbey as 'a landmark in the history of reproduction of master drawings'. ABBEY: Scenery 200; the Duke of Devonshire's 'Liber Veritatis' sketchbook is now in the British Museum.
[Ref: 13778]    £11,000.00 ($15,642 • €12,639 rates)

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