Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 55247

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2018

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GLAHM 55247: 'An Academy' 1771 - click to view larger image

"An Academy" 1771

etching and engraving

CRE RAVENET, Simon Francois; (French; 1706-1774) AFTER MORTIMER, John Hamilton; ( English; 1741-1779) PUB Boydell, John; (English; 1719-1804)

printed in black on laid paper
53.0 x 51.0
"AN ACADEMY/John Mortimer pinxit./John Boydell excudit./S.F.Ravenet sculpsit./Frontispiece to Vol: II/Published November 1.st, by John Boydell Engraver, in Cheapside London."
65 BIGNAMINI, Ilaria and Martin Postle 1991 The Artist's Model from Reynolds to Etty, Nottingham 1991
NFA funded purchase. In 1752 Simon-François Ravenet was one of the first engravers to contribute to Hunter's Gravid uterus (he engraved Tab. I and Tab. VII), and he became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1771. This engraving was published as frontispiece to Vol. 2 of Boydell's Sculptura Britannica, a grand commercial work consisting of 'A Collection of Prints, Engraved from the most Capital paintings in England'. It is a powerful image of the life class in which students would apply their knowledge of the antique and of anatomy. It is also, in effect, a manifesto for the artists of the Society of Artists, whose ranks were seriously depleted when the group including Reynolds left to become the first Royal Academicians in 1768. Mortimer was an impressive student. He worked for a time with Robert Edge Pine, an artist from Hunter's circle, and was involved with the Duke of Richmond's Sculpture gallery in Whitehall. He won premiums at the Society of Arts in 1763 and 1764, and remained a loyal exhibitor with the Society of Artists from 1762-1777. When the Royal Academy was established, the Society of Artists lost its use of the studio equipment in the St Martin's Lane Academy, including Hunter's écorché, which was taken to the new Royal Academy even before its foundation. Mortimer was involved in setting up a competing academy for the Society, in Maiden Lane, in 1769. The grand and imaginary space in which Mortimer set his life class, represents his unrealistic expectations for the Society. The proud figure of an artist at the easel framing the composition on the left, resembles Zoffany's portrait of Richard Cosway (in reverse) in the Life Class painting, on which Zoffany was working in 1771, but did not exhibit until 1772. This print anticipated Zoffany's masterpiece, year this print, was exhibited (154). Some of Mortimer's images show an appetite for anatomy that might have endeared him to Hunter (or enraged him). His drawing of Doctors Dissecting Benedict Nicolson, John Hamilton Mortimer A R A, 1740-1779, 1968, 101, engraved by Samuel Ireland) contains portraits of John and William Hunter at work on a corpse.

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For more information please contact Malcolm.Chapman@glasgow.ac.uk