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“Ah! Romney!”: Blake’s “Supernaculum” Portrait Engraving of George Romney

Mark Crosby

An anonymous engraving of Romney after his unfinished self-portrait has come to light. This recently discovered print is before all letters, suggesting that it is a proof impression. The print is on wove paper that has been trimmed inside the platemark. The image has been heavily worked using a variety of etching/engraving techniques, including line and stipple. Below the image is the pencil inscription “George Romney, the Portrait Painter Self-Portrait” in an unknown but probably modern hand. The graphic syntax (the linear patterns, dots, and flicks used to represent objects, textures, and tonality) recalls engravings of the second half of the eighteenth century, which suggests that it was executed no later than c. 1820. Indeed, the physical, technical, and aesthetic properties of the print are consistent with other eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century reproductive engravings, including those by Blake.

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