Six tall narrow folio-sized engravings with etching (platemarks 400 x 207 mm., sheets 435 x 277 mm., deckle edges), numbered 1-6 in the plate at lower right, imprint at lower right I. Haid et filius, excudit A. V. [Augustae Vindelicorum]. Upper edges archivally tipped to mats. Fine.***
WATTEAU’S COMÉDIE ITALIENNE CHARACTERS FOR THE BOUDOIR: rare suite of six rococo engravings reproducing Watteau’s designs for a folding screen. This apparently unrecorded issue, bearing the imprint of the Augsburg print-publisher Johan Jakob Haid and his son Johann Elias Haid, is a re-issue of the plates which first appeared in 1729 with the signature of Jacob Wangner and the imprint of the heirs of Jeremias Wolff. OCLC locates a single copy of the Wolff issue, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (photographs of the engravings are reproduced in the BnF online catalogue, which misspells the artist’s name as “Wagner”). Wangner’s engravings were based on the almost equally rare suite of six plates after Watteau, commissioned by Jean Julienne and engraved by Crépy fils (Louis Crépy) in 1728. For the present issue the engraver’s signatures (barely visible in the BnF images) were removed.
The title appears at the foot of the first plate. Each engraving presents a central figure or scene set within a frame of delicate rococo allegorical and ornamental design. Three show the Comédie italienne figures of Pierrot/Gilles, Harlequin, and ?Columbina (a woman playing the lute) on a rug-bedecked stage, a pair of allegorical figures flanking an awning above, and at bottom the smiling visage of a Commedia dell’Arte character of the opposite sex. The remaining pastoral scenes of courtship or douceur de vie are set within naturalistic elements, two with streams flowing over a dripping shell-shaped basin or ledge under which a ghostly face can be dimly discerned.
Two painted screens based on these designs were sold at Sotheby’s London, on Feb. 12 2008, and again on 28 Oct. 2010, with the addition of a third painting from the series).
I locate no other copies of the issue with the Haid imprint. On the Wolff issue, cf. W. Augustyn, “Augsburger Buchillustration im 18. Jahrhundert,” in Augsburger Buchdruck und Verlagswesen von den Anfangen bis zur Gegegenwart (1997), p. 820 (citing E. Isphording, Gottfried Bernhard Göz, 1708-1774, 1997, pp. 35 ff.). On the Crépy engravings, cf. Guilmard, Maitres ornemanistes, p.145; Dacier & Vauflart 159-163; E. de Goncourt, Catalogue Raisonné de l’Oeuvre ... d’Antoine Watteau (1875), p. 224, nos. 309-314; G. Glorieux, À l'enseigne de Gersaint: Edme-François Gersaint, marchand d'art sur le Pont Notre Dame (1694-1750) (Paris 2002), pp. 190 & 192; Mark Millard Collection: French Books, no. 170.35 (5 of the 6 plates). Item #2420