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The Holy Family CL 234 - a discussion

George Baxter published the print 'The Holy Family CL 234 in 1849 or 1850.

The image is taken is after a painting by Raphael and Baxter copied a version of that painting from the Goblins Tapestry that was at the time in the procession of Lord Brougham.

This is interesting in it's own right. In 1843 Baxter intended to publish a print of the 'Abolition of Slavery'. At a 1844 meeting of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society Lord Brougham was in the chair AND receiving subscribers names for Baxter's proposed print. The minimum number of subscribers was not achieved and the print was never published

In 1849 we find Lord Brougham presiding over Baxter's application to renew his patent against opposition from many of his ex-apprentices. Lord Brougham ruled in Baxter's  favour (but suggested he sold licences, which obviously Baxter then did). So in the same year or possible the next, allowing for time to prepare the plates and blocks, Baxter publishes a print of one of Lord Brougham prize possessions - was this co-incidental? No we don't think so either and even speculation at the time stated that Brougham was perhaps slightly biased. On some prints on a mount the wording can be found "This Picture, taken from the Ancient Gobelins Tapestry, after Raphael, in the possession of the Right Honourable Lord Brougham at Brougham Hall, is by permission most respectfully dedicated and published, under the sanction of His Lordship, by his obliged and obedient Servant, George Baxter." 


Baxter went on to publish Edmund Burke in 1856, also from a painting owned by Lord Brougham with simil;ar.


So that is the background to the print


(Baxter's Number 32)  Music, No. 4 ("Holy Family Sacred Melodies").  Signed on left centre on the floor, "Printed in Oil Colours by G.  Baxter, Patentee," in two lines. 


 cut circular and placed on the outside of the 1860 catalogue. 


At least 700,000 copies were stated to have been sold. 


Every collector will note how very poor some of the prints are on music; in fact, they look very often as if the plate and blocks were completely worn out; and, indeed, this was the case, for when, years after, this plate was recovered from a pawnshop, it was found to be so, and had an extra plate of steel at the back to strengthen it



 Later we find the illustration on the music title-page is a chromolithograph, but probably not by Baxter. 


There were many series of the "Sacred Melodies," and it was used for each one.  On what is known as the "Brougham lettering" variety (234a) there is engraved on the mount, in the bottom right, in style and colour similar to the engraved lettering on the print of Burke, the following in six lines: 


The plate has no lettering but the signature.  Both on music and when on the Brougham mount it is dome shape and has a gold border, otherwise the top is square.  A really good print is rare, but always the Madonna's dress has a somewhat unfinished look.  Lord Brougham was much interested in its publication, and wrote to Baxter several times about it.  (See print No.  223.)

When on music there is, in gold type, under the print, in one line, "Printed by G.  Baxter, the Inventor and Patentees of Oil Colour Printing."  George Baxter, jun., also used the plate for music, but his is a very bad production.  The lettering then is "Printed in Oil Colours by G.  Baxter, Patentee, Birmingham."  Baxter attended by command at Buckingham Palace in 1850 to show the print to the Prince Consort.  With the print Baxter issued a letterpress description, which is very rare in these days and which was as follows:
"Description of the Holy Family picture, printed in Oil Colours by George Baxter, the Inventor and Patentee of Oil Colour Picture Printing, 11, Northampton Square.
"This print is taken from a fine piece of old Gobelins Tapestry, at Brougham Hall, by permission of the Rt. Hon. Lord Brougham.  The history of the picture, of which it is the only extant copy, is curious.  Raphael, walking in Rome, saw a handsome girl and two children at a window.  He took out his paper and pencil, and on a wine-barrel he sketched the group.
" He then finished it, and was satisfied, as well he might be, for it is one of his finest pictures; but it is cramped by the edge of the barrel, which forms its frame, and especially the Madonna's leg is in an awkward perpendicular posture - because, had it extended gracefully, the circular frame would have cut it off under the knee.  He therefore painted a larger one and without restraint.  That picture is now supposed to be lost, and there is no copy of it, except this Gobelins, which was made about a hundred years ago.  The first, a circular one, is in the Palazzo Pitti at Florence, and the finest of that collection.  It differs in almost all its details from this second one; beside the great difference of the Madonna's legs and feet being shown in this, as well as her jewelbox, the St. John's arm is complete instead of being cut off in part by the circular frame.
" London, sold wholesale by George Baxter, the Inventor and Patentee, of Oil Colour Printing, 11, Northampton Square, and may be obtained of the principal book and print sellers throughout Great Britain.  Price 1s. mounted on tinted paper.  Proofs 2s. 6d., superbly mounted.  Licenses will be granted for working the patent process on application to the Patentee."
The 1860 Catalogue says: "Upwards of 700,000 have been already sold, and independent of the large public demand, thousands are used yearly for the purpose of illustrating various standard works."  It is not often we can authoritatively say the order in which the colours were placed by the blocks on the print, but in this case we can, for we have seen Baxter's own directions as follows: (1) Dark crimson lake.  (2) Light do.  (3) Dark flesh-tint.  (4) Light do.  (5) Third do.  (6) Fourth do.  (7) Dark blue.  (8) Light brown.  (9) Dark cobalt blue.  (10) Light do.  (11) Umber (background).  (12) Light umber.  (13) Yellow, completing the printing.  The print was then glazed and mounted.  Originally sold, "superbly mounted with rich gold border," at 1s. 6d.  We see from above that in addition to the impression from the plate, thirteen blocks were necessary, but the 1860 Catalogue says fourteen were used.  The plate was in the 1860 Catalogue, but the print is not included in the Baxter, Vincent Brooks, or Le Blond republication lists.

Size of Print, 6 x 4.
Published 1849-50.  
This print is signed as above stated.

On mount, with gold border - MR - £2. 10. 0.
On mount, without gold border - MR - £2. 0. 0.
Without mount - C - £0. 17. 6.
On music, complete - C - £1. 0. 0.
On mount, with Brougham inscription - MR - £3. 10. 0.

Stamped mount - EMF, EML, EMM, EMN.
RSM - 6.

Issued in 8 states:
RSM, with Gold Border an Lettering (usually called Brougham Lettering), as follows: "This Picture, taken from the Ancient Gobelins Tapestry, after Raphael, in the / possession of the Right Honourable Lord Brougham at Brougham Hall, is by / permission most respectfully dedicated and published, under the / sanction of His Lordship, / By his obliged and obedient Servant,/  George Baxter."
RSM, with Gold Border and Lettering as above, but "patronage" replaces "sanction".
Stamped Mount, with Square Top.
Stamped Mount, with Dome Top and Gold Border.
Plain Mount, with Baxter's Label, 1864.
On Music, "Series of Sacred Melodies".
Mounted, in Leather Bound Covers, as a Set of Fifteen, showing the complete process of producing this print.
On Title Page of Southgate and Barrett's Catalogue of G. Baxter's Sale Catalogue 1860 (cut to circle).