JF Ptak Science Books
- Etching, ca. late 17th c. 185x140mm, (untrimmed?), thin margins that seem to be the original width. Monogrammed "JG" or "GI" and other permutations (see below). Owner's mark at very bottom right. No discernible watermark. In very good condition. $500
I've long thought that this (ca. 17th century) etching of a scholar in his study was alchemical in nature--that just for the the appearance and sound of the two words printed int he large open book on the table. As it turns out, I cannot find those words, anywhere--at least with meanings that could be related to the book or the scene.
That said it is still an interesting and very personal scene--one man, still heavily clothed in the dark (and what seems to be late at night, though there is no evidence for that, that is just how it feels t me), working away at something with the benefit of only a single semi-weak light source
The artist/etcher looks to be "JG", or "IG" or "GT", and other permutations and possibilities. I have not been able to identify who the artist is, having scoured the Big Book of Initials and Monograms: Francois Brulliot's Dictionnaire des Monogrammes, Marques Figurees, Lettres Initiales, Nom Abreges, etc., avec lesquels les Peintres, Dessinaeurs.... The book is a masterpiece of a type, sorting out the difficult and twisted means by which the originators of artworks identified themselves. It was published in Munich in 1832 in two volumes, and runs an easy 1200pp, though there is probably a half-inch of very thin paper that is unpaginated for various appendices. (For some reason the letter "T" is represented in only one page in the monogram section. Odd.)
The artist's monogram followed by a "fe", which is an abbreviation of "fecit", or "faciebat", which is also abbreivated as "f", "fac", and "fect", which seems to be a kind of ambiguous term, referring to "JG" as being the maker, as either the artist or etcher/engraver, or both. (This is less seldom scene than the more common indicators like "del" and "delin", which abbreviates the Latin word for draw/drew, and so indicating the artist; "eng" and "engd" would stand for "engraved", for the person who prepared and executed the plate made from the artist's work.)
Here's the detail of the open book, as well as the initials of the artist (located on the left-hand page):
And an early (and tiny, 2mm) collector's mark, stamped in the extreme right bottom corner: