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Collector’s Minute: Albert Ludovici Prints & Puzzles

by Mike Wilcox (11/02/10).

“Rival Coaches – 1834” by Albert Ludovici Jr. is one of 16 images that were made into picture puzzles by Raphael Tuck & Sons, Ltd. In 1910-12.

The artist Albert Ludovici Jr. (1852-1932) was a member of British Royal Academy of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, member of the French school of painting and an admirer of the impressionist style of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, a fellow engraver who lived in Paris at the same time. Ludovici spent his life shuffling between Paris and London, painting landscapes and interior scenes of people at leisure in oil and water color. Ludovici participated in numerous exhibitions from 1884-1923, joining the Society of British Artists in 1881. His works exhibited in the Society’s Winter Shows of 1886-87 and 1889-89.

While Ludovici’s work was displayed in galleries, its greatest exposure was in the form of jigsaw puzzles and prints depicting one of his favorite subjects: coaching scenes from the works of author Charles Dickens. In Ludovici’s book, “An Artist’s Life in London and Paris,” published in 1926, he wrote:

I cannot help feeling sorry for the present generation, who have no idea of these good old times, and my only regret is that I did not live in the coaching days, which I have so often tried to depict in my Charles Dickens coaching series of pictures.

His Dickens Coaching Series of paintings became the basis of jigsaw puzzles and prints produced in the years 1910-12 by Raphael Tuck & Sons, Ltd., London. Raphael Tuck & Sons began operations in 1865, producing a variety of books, prints, postcards and children’s games. In December 1940, the firm’s premises, Raphael House, was destroyed in one of the biggest air raids of the Second World War on London. As a result, most of the early records of 74 years of industry vanished along with the building.

What we do know of the Ludovici Coaching series is that 16 different images were produces as puzzles and marketed as “Tuck’s Famous 16 Dickens Coaching ‘Zag-Zag’ Puzzles after the originals by Albert Ludovici, Jr.” They were issued in two sizes: a 400-piece set measuring 20 inches by12 inches, and 150-piece set measuring 12 inches by 7 inches. Today, if you have deep pockets, you could buy an original Ludovici oil painting, but a puzzle based on his work can be had for less than $200.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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