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Composition with skeleton on a seashore

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1981,0124.3

  • Title (object)

    • Composition with skeleton on a seashore
  • Description

    A scene on a rocky, desolate beach, with some scattered shells and one large tree; from the tree hangs a tattered net, and just off the shore floats a wrecked galley. On land, in the foreground, a skeleton lies stretched out on his back, beside him is a skull, hidden in the weeds, and beneath him, a harpoon. Additions in pen and ink have been made to the print, transforming some objects' identities. Faces have been given to the rocks in the distance, as well as to a lobster basket on the far right, the galley rudder has become a skeletal head, and the mast a skeletal leg. Above the rocks, a skeleton hangs suspended from a thin tree, and in the sky, a winged skeleton flies upwards, holding out a bottle towards one reclining and several snarling figures in the clouds. 1772 (?)
    Etching and aquatint in shades of brown, overdrawn in pen and black ink

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  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1772 (ca.)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 371 millimetres
    • Width: 486 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered within image, on the bottom right: "B". Inscribed on the verso in ink: "supposed to be by Mortimer, bought at Ireland's Sale"
  • Curator's comments

    Burdett was the first British aquatinter and this is only his fourth known aquatint.
    See Sunderland in the 'Burlington Magazine', December 1980 p.836, where this is described as an "apparently unique print", the pen and ink additions having been made by Mortimer himself. See Sunderland Cat. no. 70 for more information.
    The subject is presumably satirical.

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  • Bibliography

    • Sunderland 70 bibliographic details
  • Location

    British XVIIIc Mounted Imp

  • Exhibition history

    2007 July-Oct, Coburg, Kunsammlungen der Veste, 'Aquatinta oder...'
    2007/8 Nov-Feb, Liverpool, Walker AG, Joseph Wright of Derby in Liverpool
    2008 May-Aug, New Haven, Yale CBA, Joseph Wright of Derby in Liverpool

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1981

  • Acquisition notes

    Formerly with Christopher Mendez, 'Fine English Prints' Nov/Dec 1980 cat.9. It is inscribed on the verso 'supposed to be by Mortimer, bought at Ireland's sale' (which took place in 1797 and 1801)

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1981,0124.3

A scene on a rocky, desolate beach, with some scattered shells and one large tree; from the tree hangs a tattered net, and just off the shore floats a wrecked galley. On land, in the foreground, a skeleton lies stretched out on his back, beside him is a skull, hidden in the weeds, and beneath him, a harpoon. Pen and ink additions have been made to the print, transforming some objects' identities. Faces have been given to the rocks in the distance, as well as to a lobster basket on the far right, the galley rudder has become a skeletal head, and the mast a skeletal leg. Above the rocks, a skeleton hangs suspended from a thin tree, and in the sky, a winged skeleton flies upwards, holding out a bottle towards one reclining and several snarling figures in the clouds.  1772 (?)
Aquatint overdrawn in pen and ink

A scene on a rocky, desolate beach, with some scattered shells and one large tree; from the tree hangs a tattered net, and just off the shore floats a wrecked galley. On land, in the foreground, a skeleton lies stretched out on his back, beside him is a skull, hidden in the weeds, and beneath him, a harpoon. Pen and ink additions have been made to the print, transforming some objects' identities. Faces have been given to the rocks in the distance, as well as to a lobster basket on the far right, the galley rudder has become a skeletal head, and the mast a skeletal leg. Above the rocks, a skeleton hangs suspended from a thin tree, and in the sky, a winged skeleton flies upwards, holding out a bottle towards one reclining and several snarling figures in the clouds. 1772 (?) Aquatint overdrawn in pen and ink

Image description

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Object reference number: PPA95496

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