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James Tassie

James Tassie (1735-1799) was the most prolific collector and merchant of impressions of classical gems of the eighteenth century, providing sets and selections of impressions in a variety of materials. His collection is the most comprehensive of its day. Its 15,800 items were classified and described by Erich Raspe, and the catalogue printed in 1791 in English and French: A Descriptive Catalogue of a General Collection of Ancient and Modern Engraved Gems, Cameos and Intaglios, Taken from the Most Celebrated Cabinets in Europe; and Cast in Coloured Pastes, White Enamel, and Sulphur. The book is widely accessible but the complete sets of impressions are known only in Edinburgh (Tassie's home), London (Victoria and Albert Museum), and St Petersburg, where Catherine the Great ordered a set in 1783. The V&A kindly allowed R.L. Wilkins to photograph their set of impressions for the Beazley Archive in Oxford, with the help of a grant from the Getty Research Center in Santa Monica. Each tray was photographed in two halves, and twice, with lighting from either side. These photographs are presented here. They can be searched from the original Raspe index, which is reproduced here, or by number. Clicking on the icon will access your search. Clicking on the screen enlarges parts of the photo or index text. Clicking on the light source icon will give the alternatively lit photograph. For the full text of Raspe's descriptions Search Text.

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