Claude Lorrain. Liber Veritatis.
Claude Lorrain (circa 1600 - 1682) was a famous French painter who lived and worked in Italy. Throughout his successful career as an artist, he created an unusual diary, known as Liber Veritatis, filled in with sketches of his own works. In addition to the desire to keep track of his work, he was motivated by the need to protect his copyrights. He suffered from dishonest rival artists who copied his works and sold them as originals. To prevent this malicious practice, Claude made ink and wash designs of new paintings for his own records and as a proof of authenticity. On the reverse of designs, he inscribed the date, subject, and the current owner, if applicable. Finally, in 1675 he completed a sketchbook of 195 drawings and two indices. It was, probably, one of the first catalogs raisonné in the history of art. It is even more significant that this catalog was compiled by the artist himself. From 1720 to 1957 this sketchbook was in the possession of the Dukes of Devonshire and, since then, in the British Museum.
Frontispiece for Liber Veritatis. Self-portrait (?). Etching with mezzotint by Josiah Boydell. 1777. Collection of Goldin Fine Art.
Lorrain was so much appreciated and admired in the XVIII century England, that he was often referred to simply as Claude. His artwork was in such demand that John Boydell, an entrepreneur, artist and publisher, decided to publish this sketchbook in 1770s. For this purpose, he commissioned the best engraver of that time, Richard Earlom, to transform Claude's inks and washes into etchings and mezzotints.
More about J. Boydell: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boydell, John.
More about R. Earlom: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Earlom, Richard.
"Their [R. Earlom] mixed method, with mezzotint to represent wash and etching for Claude's pen line, was unusual in landscape prints at this date, yet highly effective in capturing the character of the originals".
Reference: The British Museum No.1872,1012.4709
Landscape with Jacob, Rachel and Leah at the Well. Collection of Goldin Fine Art.
The original painting was taken by the French Army from the Hesse Cassel Gallery in 1806. Later in 1815, it was purchased by the Emperor of Russia from the Empress Josephine collection at Malmaison, and now is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Earlom worked from 1774 to 1777, and two volumes (100 engravings each) in 1777 were issued under the title Liber Veritatis. Or, A Collection of Two Hundred Prints, After the Original Designs of Claude le Lorrain, in the Collection of His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, Executed by Richard Earlom, in the Manner and Taste of the Drawings. To which is added a Descriptive Catalogue of each Print. Together with the names of those for whom, and of the Places for which the Original Pictures were first painted, (Taken from the Handwriting of Claude Le Lorrain himſelf on the Back of each Drawing) and Of the preſent Possessors of many of the Original Picture. Published by the Proprietor, John Boydell, Engraver, in Cheapside, London. MDCCLXXVII.
The second edition in three volumes of 100 engravings each was issued in 1819. While the first and second volumes were printed from the same plates as in 1774 - 1777, title pages were reprinted without the year of the edition; the list of titles and subjects was altered. The third volume consisted of reproductions made after Lorrain's loose drawings from the Duke of Devonshire and other collections. The index of the third volume was changed as well.
Between 1777 and 1819 R. Earlom had to retouch and refresh the plates because of high demand.