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Burch’s Exquisite Equine

Large oval purple paste intaglio, signed by Edward Burch

Incredibly detailed imagery of a horse

Why we love it

What a fine specimen of an intaglio and one which has us all of flutter at BMHQ.

The craftmanship is nothing short of exquisite. No wonder Edward Burch was one of the most illustrious gem engravers of his time. And self-taught at that! Pretty impressive for a man who started his working life as a waterman on the Thames.

If you were looking for an engraver to immortalise your favourite steed on a seal in the late eighteenth century, Burch would be right up there. He was employed by James Tassie and taught Nathaniel Marchant (another influential engraver). His specialism was historical portraits, which included Shakespeare and Newton.

Of particular interest, as far as this intaglio is concerned, Burch worked for Josiah Wedgwood on a series of models of horses, based on designs but George Stubbs, the preeminent equestrian painter of his generation. Which means Burch had some moves as an engraver of horses.

This intaglio captures the majesty and power of the horse, symbolic of fearlessness, fortitude and freedom. It’s also worth noting the docked tail. The tradition of docking tails began in the UK in the 17th century to distinguish English horses from their French counterparts.

Initially restricted to horses belonging to the nobility, tail docking later fell out of favour in the UK and is now banned (to the delight, we’re sure, of our four-legged friends), although it continued in Western Europe with draft or working horses.

An intaglio of noble bearing, by an engraver of impeccable pedigree, signifying courage and durability.

Or as Emma say, it’s an absolute banger!

1 in stock

Additional information



Seal material


Seal colour


Seal shape

East west oval


Very good antique condition with light surface wear – some nibbles to edges will largely be concealed in setting

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