IU, unmounted s. on plate b. r. "F. Bartolozzi detto il Guercino inv."; inscr. on plate b. l. "F. Bartolozzi Scu."; inscr. in pencil outside plate t. r. "19" CRE BARTOLOZZI, Francesco; (Italian; 1725-1815) AFTER GUERCINO, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, (Italian; 1591-1666) PUB DALTON, Richard (1715-1791) This volume is part of William Hunter's bequest. The prints were commissioned by Richard Dalton, Librarian to George III, in the 1760s. They focus on the King's unrivalled collection of more than 800 drawings by Guercino, largely assembled by Dalton on visits made to Italy to enrich his royal patron's art holdings. The volume promoted the Royal Collection and served the market for prints after Guercino who was particularly popular among eighteenth-century English connoisseurs. They were mainly etched by Bartolozzi, hailed as Italy's best engraver, who was brought to London by Dalton in 1763.
The Libyan Sibyl was one of the twelve sibyls or prophetesses of classical antiquity alleged to have foretold the coming of Christ. Adopted by the Church as pagan equivalents of the Old Testament Prophets, they became a popular subject after Michelangelo interspersed them with biblical prophets in the Sistine Chapel. Guercino tackled the subject numerous times. This print is one of only two in the volume to imitate a painting rather than a drawing (see Glaha 16442) which was probably acquired by Dalton at the same time as the drawings. There are also three other prints after drawings of sibyls in the volume (Glaha 16461, 16494, 16496).