c 1650. Graphite, ink wash and watercolor on handmade laid paper with a large, indistinguishable ovoid watermark with a bunch of grapes, 8 7/16 x 12 5/8 inches (225 x 320 mm), signed in brown ink in the lower left. With the Henry Scipio Reitlinger oval stamp in brown ink on the verso (Lugt 2274a).
The condition of the image and paper is consistent with age, there is minor toning on the recto and some attenuation of the green pigment. The drawing is laid down to an 18th century laid paper support and has a small pencil notation in the lower right corner (modern), and scattered notations in pencil on the verso of the support (also modern, perhaps auction/accession notes). On the paper support is an ink drawing in red and black of what appears to be the floor plan for the wing of a large building. The drawing is top-up, adhered facing the verso of the drawing. The architectural drawing on the support is visible through to the recto of the composition when the sheets are viewed through raking light. There is a small area of stipple point spotting in brown ink on the verso of the support. Examination under black light shows no indication of repairs or additions, expert or otherwise.
Henry Scipio Reitlinger was born in either 1882 or 1885, attended Kings College, Cambridge, and later in Frieberg, Germany, where his studies focused on mining engineering. After his graduation Reitlinger traveled to Africa and made a fortune as the director of the Naraguta Tin Mine in Nigeria. He enjoyed an early retirement from the mining industry, and turned his focus completely to his passion for art scholarship and collecting. He formed important collections of Old Master paintings and drawings, Asian art, porcelain, and English and Continental antiquities. He also penned two notable books, "A Selection of Drawings by Old Masters in the Museum Collections with a Catalogue and Notes" (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1921, and "Old Master Drawings; a handbook for amateurs and collectors" (Constable & Co. Ltd., London, 1922). Reitlinger intended to open a public museum showcasing his vast private collections, but he didn't live long enough to see it to fruition. After his death in 1950, the newly formed Henry Reitlinger Trust did succeed in opening the Reitlinger Bequest Museum, which operated in Maidenhead between 1951 and 1987. After the museum's closure, the objects were transferred to the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University in 1991, where they are housed today. Reitlinger's remaining personal collections were auctioned at Sotheby's after his death, with one sale occurring in 1953 and six subsequent sales which all took place in 1954. Henry Reitlinger was the older brother of celebrated British art historian, collector, and author Gerald Reitlinger.
Item number: 646