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1729 Dublin – 1765 London


Lisabetta – c.1760


Mezzotint on laid watermarked paper after Francesco Furini (1603-1646). Size of sheet: 33.5 x 23.3 cm. Lettered: ‘Boccaccio, Giornata quarta, Novella V. Done from the Orginal in the Collection of Mr. Reynolds / Fuerino pinxt. / J. McArdell fecit’.


Goodwin 1903, British Mezzotinters: James McArdell (205.II); Chaloner Smith 1883/British Mezzotinto portraits from the introduction of the art to the early part of the present century (underscribed).


Comparable impressions: BM – ref. 1873,0809.39; YCBA – ref. B1970.3.1066.


Beautiful velvety impression in excellent condition.



James McArdell: Lisabetta

  • McArdell was called the founder of the great school of mezzotint engravers of the 18th century in England. In 1746 he moved to London from Dublin to pursue his profession. In his short career he raised the art of mezzotinter to a perfection never before attained in England. McArdell worked with the best-regarded artists of his day, such as Sir Joshua Reynolds. 'By this man I shall be immortalized’, said Sir Joshua marvelling at the talent of James McArdell, who in total engraved 38 portraits after Reynolds.

    The work relates to the story from Boccaccio’s Decameron (Day 4 Story 5), in which three merchant brothers of Lisabetta kill her lover, Lorenzo. Stricken with grief, she sees him in her dream where he shows her where his burial place is. She secretly digs up his body and hides his head in a pot and covers it with soil, planting some basil on top. She cries over it every day untill her brothers take the pot away from her and soon after she dies of sorrow. 

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