Letter: Bone in colour

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The Independent Online
Sir: Martin Wyld (letter, 15 April) cites Henry Bone's smaller-scale enamel copy of Titian's painting Bacchus and Ariadne as evidence for the colours of the original painting.

Barbara Bibb (19 April), in disputing this, incorrectly equates the style of enamelware classed as English painted enamels with Bone's controlled and naturalistic enamel miniatures. Bone's early output for the Bristol and Plymouth porcelain factory was very different from his mature work as an artist painting with enamels on copper.

Graham Reynolds (English Portrait Miniatures, 1952) states: '(Bone) was elected RA in 1811, and this year marks the apogee of his vogue, for he then sold an enamel copy of Bacchus and Ariadne after Titian for 2,200 guineas.' The most commonly stated criticism of Bone's work was that he was merely a good copyist. It is hard to believe that such a very high price would have been paid in 1811 for an inaccurate copy of Bacchus and Ariadne.

Outspoken contemporary detractors would have seized on any anomaly in colour reproduction between originals and Bone's small enamel copies if they had grounds for so doing. The faithfulness of Bone's colour reproduction can be proven by comparing some of his other enamel copies with surviving originals in oils.

Yours faithfully,

ERIKA SPEEL

Eastcote, Middlesex

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