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Portrait, Sir Thomas Gresham, Founder of the Royal Exchange, Antique Print, London, 1823

$350

Sir Antonio More (Anthonis Mor c. 1516-20 – c. 1576) (after)
Robert Thew (engraver)
Sir Thomas Gresham, Founder of the Royal Exchange, London
Elizabeth Cox, London: 1823
Engraving, uncolored
13 x 10.5 inches, image
16.5 x 13.75 inches, sheet
$350

Portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham, builder of London’s Royal Exchange, a key figure in the history of business and finance. As the subtitle of the print states, it was “Engraved from the Original Picture in the Possession of the Late Lady Northhampton.” Anthonis Mor (sometimes referred to as Antonio More or Moro) painted the original portrait and a companion portrait of Gresham’s wife Anne Fermely in 1560. The originals are in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

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Description

Sir Thomas Gresham (c.1518/19-1579) belonged to the Mercers’ Company (a London organization originally founded as a trade guild for textile importers and exporters). He served as Queen Elizabeth I’s royal agent in the Netherlands and was knighted in 1559. In 1565, he persuaded the Corporation of the City of London and the Mercers’ Company to realize his idea of building of an Exchange in the City of London as a focal point for business dealings. The Exchange was built by Gresham on a site provided by the Corporation and the Mercers’ Company. It was opened by Elizabeth I in 1570, and is credited with propelling London to becoming the center for international trade that it is today. Gresham stipulated in his will that revenue from the Exchange was to be used to fund an educational establishment to provide learned free lectures for the City of London. Gresham College was founded in 1596 and continues to this day.

Anthonis Mor was a Netherlandish painter, also active in Italy, Portugal England, and Spain, where he served as court painter to the Spanish king Philip II, one of the most powerful rulers in 16th Century Europe. He also painted artists, intellectuals and successful merchants. Mors’ distinctive style borrowed elements from Titian and from the Netherlandish tradition which according to the Grove Dictionary of Art, “combined austerity and a formality of pose with penetrating insights into his sitters’ characters.”

Robert Thew was a British printmaker and engraver who rose from humble beginnings as the son of an innkeeper to become engraver to the Prince of Wales. Although not academically trained, he became skilled in the dot manner of engraving and in 1783 set up a shop in Hull, producing shop advertisement bills and cards. A plate after Gerard Dow caught the eye of the prominent publisher and printseller John Boydell, who employed him; Thew engraved at least 19 of the large plates for Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery.

Elizabeth Cox ran a publishing and printselling business under her own name for over two decades after taking over the business of Thomas Cox (d. 1806), a medical bookseller, printer and stationer in London.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, wear, soiling, soft creases.

References:

“Antonis Mor (van Dashorst) [Moro].” http://www.artnet.com/library/05/0594/T059446.asp (4 March 2002).

“Famous Mercers.” UK: Mercers’ Company Archives. http://www.mercers.co.uk/mainsite/pages/c_famous2.html (4 March 2002).

Maxted, Ian. “Thomas Cox” in “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 2001. http://www.devon.gov.uk/library/locstudy/bookhist/lonbktr.html (4 March 2002).

Redgrave, Samuel. A Dictionary of Artists of the English School: Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Ornamentists. London: Longmans, Green, and Col., 1874. (Thew, 406).