The Rivals (Plate & Description)

 The Rivals, engraved by Finden (page 99)                             

Plate details:  The following description was offered on pages 216-218 of Alaric Watts: A Narrative of His Life. Vol. I

The Rivals, one of Leslie’s earliest and happiest genre pictures, engraved by Finden. Here, as in the Lovers Quarrel, the age is of Charles II., or it might be a little earlier, the presiding spirit being here rather of Vandyke than Lely. A young and capricious beauty, attired in the conventional white satin dress, followed by her black page bearing a guitar. Two young cavaliers, full of suppressed merriment, accompany her, lagging slightly behind on the left hand, as personages for the moment of secondary important. One appears to be whispering in her ear, while she drops from her hand, as though by accident, her fan of peacock’s feathers, which has rolled down a step of the terrace-walk. She drops it, laughing the while merrily, as, keeping the younger gallant in the background, she allows a very corpulent and rather elderly cavalier, sumptuously attired, to stoop at her feet, and, with much evident discomfort and difficulty, pick up the fan. Very heavy and very stiff is this elderly admirer of the wicked girl, as, bowing low, he leans upon his walking-cane, which bends beneath his weight. The scene is a broad and stately marble terrace in a grand old pleasaunce garden; and you have a very vivid sense of afternoon sun, and a long walk under it along the hot marble flags for the tired gentleman before reaching the house; — “First through the length of yon hot terrace sweat.”

These works, then engraved for the first time, became so popular that larger engravings were subsequently made from them, as was the case with other subjects first introduced to the public in this work. As an illustration of the technical beauty of the engravings in this volume, I may mention that another subject by Stewart Newton, entitled The Forsaken, engraved by Charles Heath, was so highly valued by connoisseurs for the engraver’s work,–it possessed, I think, little other value,–that proofs of it, before letters, were purchased in this very year by Messrs. Colnaghi, the print-sellers, at a public sale, at an uniform price of 19s. each.

Source:  Alaric Watts: A Narrative of His Life. Vol. I of II by his son, Alaric Alfred Watts,London:  Richard Bentley and Son, 1884.


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