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The Meeting of Isaac & Rebecca.

After Robert Smirke, engraved by James Godby. The Meeting of Isaac & Rebekah. "The Meeting of Isaac and Rebekah.// Recontre d'Isaac et de Rebecca." London John Murphy. 1801
Stipple engraving by James Godby after the painting by Robert Smrke of the meeting between Isaac and Rebekah. Modern hand colour.

The image shows Rebekah standing demurely in centre, covering her face with her veil as she is introduced to Isaac standing at right, servants surrounding and camels behind, camp in background at right.

Lettered below image with title in English and French and bible reference, production detail: "R. Smirke pinxit/ J. Murphy excudit/ James Godby sculpsit" [lacks publication line: "London, Published Octr. 1st. 1801 by John Murphy No. 19 Howland Street, Fitzroy Square"} Good impression; trimmed to plate mark , shaving off publication line; olded just right of centre [ from being bound?]; some spotting and offsetting to title; modern hand colour.

Robert Smirke (1753 –1845)
was an English painter and illustrator, specialising in small paintings showing subjects taken from literature. He was a member of the Royal Academy
Many of Smirke's pictures were painted in monochrome, so that they would reproduce well as engravings. Although a popular illustrator, he was thought to have revolutionary opinions. George III refused to sanction his appointment as keeper to the Royal Academy in 1804 and he is thought to have been the author behind the anonymous Catalogues Raisonnes (1815-16) which savagely lampooned the great and the good of British art patronage.
Smirke built his reputation on early commissions for paintings with literary themes and contemporary subjects such as Recovery of a Young Man Believed Drown after Resuscitation by Dr. Hawesand Young Man Lifted from the River Apparently Drown (both 1787; engraved by R. Pollard, Guildhall Art Gallery, London). For John Boydell's Shakspeare Gallery he painted scenes from plays that were engraved for numerous publications, including The Picturesque Beauties of Shakespeare(1783–7) and A collection of prints from pictures for the purpose of illustrating the dramatic works of Shakespeare by the artists of Great Britain(1805).

Godby, James (active 1790–1815),
printmaker, worked in London in the early part of the nineteenth century. In 1800 his address was 25 Norfolk Street, London. Apart from his work little is known of his life. Simply signed 'Godby Sculp', his first engraving is a portrait of Edward Snape (1791) after William Whitby. Between 1799 and 1800, this was followed by two atlas-sized biblical subjects after Henry Singleton's Adam Bearing the Wounded Body of Abeland the Departure of Cain.
Godby specialized in stipple engraving and favoured the subjects of mythology, sentimental literary genre, and female portraiture that were invariably associated with this medium. He engraved after old masters and work by his contemporaries. He was also competent in the crayon manner and aquatint and frequently worked in conjunction with the publisher Edward Orme. Along with Swaine and Vivares, Godby was one of the team of engravers to work on Orme's eye-catching and novel Essay on Transparent Prints and on Transparencies in General(1807), a gimmicky volume of designs for stained-glass window cut-outs. Godby also provided stipple
engravings for Orme's commercially led Graphic History of the Life, Exploits and Death of Horatio Nelson (1806); notably, he engraved a coloured aquatint view of Nelson's funeral procession after the design of W. M. Craig.
Godby's ambitious and confident nature can be judged from his engraving in 1812 of a version of Raphael's Miraculous Draft of Fishes. But at the same time he also worked on a modest scale for publications such as the Literary Magazine and The Fine Arts of the English School.
L. H. Cust, rev. Lucy Peltz ODNB:10853

Murphy, John (active1778–c.1817),
printmaker, was born in Ireland. Successive authorities have dated his birth to about 1748, but nothing is known about him until 1778, when his career in London commenced. From then until 1788 he lived in the house at 4 Air Street, Piccadilly, of the bookseller Patrick Keating and his son George Keating, a printmaker and later an important publisher of Roman Catholic books. Both Murphy and George Keating published prints from this house, and in 1784 collaborated on a portrait of the Catholic divine Arthur O'Leary, which was drawn by Murphy and scraped in mezzotint by Keating. In 1789 Murphy appears to have moved with the Keatings to 18 Warwick Street, Golden Square, but by 1791 he had moved out and soon established himself on the north side of Paddington Green.
Murphy engraved a few portraits in mezzotint but specialized in history, especially scripture history, having engraved plates at the outset of his career for the Houghton Gallery, a series of engravings published by John Boydell between 1774 and 1778. He scraped about a dozen mezzotints for Boydell and was employed by a number of other printsellers, including James Birchall and John Jeffryes, although he published a proportion of his plates himself. He worked after an unusually wide variety of painters, both ancient and modern, and interpreted historical paintings by Beschey, Caravaggio, da Cortona, Eckhout, Luca Giordano, Guercino, Rembrandt, Rosa, Snyders, and Titian as well as modern subject pieces by Dagoty, Kauffmann, Livesay, Morland, Northcote, Ramberg, Reinagle, Singleton, Stothard, Stubbs, West, and Wheatley. Among his most striking pieces were large mezzotints of animals after Northcote, Snyders, and Stubbs.
In 1785 Murphy took James Daniell as his pupil, and at the close of his apprenticeship in 1792 he published Daniell's A Lion, after John Graham. He also published stipples by James Godby, which may be the reason for the time-honoured assertion (apparently false) that Murphy was also a stipple engraver. Murphy had some talent as a designer and was probably the artist who drew a series of views for A Tour on the Lakes of Westmoreland, published by Ackermann in 1800. In 1805 he published a mezzotint of The Settling Family Attacked by Savages by Keating, after Henry Singleton, but his active career as an engraver and publisher ended at about that date. A private plate of Viscount Courtenay is dated 1809 but may have been engraved earlier. According to a list of living artists published in 1820 in Annals of the Fine Arts, ed. J. Elmes (5 vols., 1817–20), Murphy was then residing in Howland Street. A selection of his prints can be seen in the department of prints and drawings at the British Museum.

Timothy Clayton ODNB19580
British Museum No:1953,0214.46 471 by 590mm (18½ by 23¼ inches).   ref: 2696  €250

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