BEGINNING ENGRAVATIONS IN ENGLAND
Old English painting, English artists. Old engravings are always the pride of their owner, the decoration of any collection, the original, stylish part of the interior. If you want to furnish a house or a room in the English style, then antique engraving is absolutely necessary. The works of Dutch and German engravers are very good and found. But it is better to pay attention to the work of English artists. After all, what can harmonize with the interior in the English style better than the engraving of the old English master?
BEGINNING ENGRAVURES IN ENGLAND.
English school in engraving is much younger than Italian, German or Dutch. History of English prints, apparently, should be carried out from the end of the XV century. The first known engravings are placed in the book The Mirror of the World, published in 1480 at Westminster by the English pioneer William Kexton. The illustrations in the book are made in the technique of wood engraving.
Subsequently, in England spread other techniques – engraving on copper, woodcut. However, all the oldest engravings of the island were exclusively illustrations for books, were made at a very mediocre level and did not represent any independent artistic value.
Up to the 17th century, the overwhelming majority of English engravers were foreigners, mostly from Germany and Holland. However, many of them settled on the island forever and made an undoubted contribution to the formation of the English school of engraving.
The fate of the renowned Dutch master John Farber Sr. (1660-1721), an outstanding portrait painter and engraver, one of the pioneers of mezzotint (intaglio printing) technique, is indicative in this respect. John Farber arrived in England in his youth, and his whole creative life was spent on the island. Among his works are many portraits of prominent figures of the Anglican Church, as well as Roman emperors and ancient philosophers. He was close to academic circles, which resulted in a series of portraits of the founders of the University of Cambridge and Oxford.
However, Farber Sr. far exceeded his fame with his son and disciple John-Farber Jr. (1695-1756), who became the most famous mezzotint in England in the first half of the 18th century.
Note that later the mezzotint method became a kind of business card of the English engraving.
Chronologically, the formation of the English school of engraving coincides with the period of the rise of British pictorial art, which is quite logical. In the 18th century, a whole series of outstanding engravers appeared in England, who worked in various techniques – incisal engraving, etching, and others.
But the main stylistic feature of the English school was the widespread use of complex decorative techniques, making it possible to use in the picture not just dark lines or points, but smooth halftones. Such methods, as close as possible to engraving to painting, became aquatint, dotted and mezzotint already mentioned.
England was especially famous for its colorful engraving on metal. Many prominent painters of the time understood that it was the engravers who replicated their paintings that owed their fame. The famous Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the founder and president of the Royal Academy of Arts, did not even demand money from the engravers for the right to reproduce his canvases.
Many painters themselves were engaged in engraving. The founder of the English original painting school, William Hogarth (1697-1764), began his creative work as an engraver on silver. With this art, he did not part all his life. It was engravings that gave him a livelihood. So, having written his famous series of paintings under the shocking name “Life of a Prostitute”, he immediately made engravings from paintings, which were in great demand among buyers. Pictures of this cycle survived to us only thanks to Hogarth’s engravings, since the originals were burned during the fire of 1775.
Inspired by financial success, Hogarth did the same with his other famous cycles – “Career Mota”, “Fashionable Marriage”. All the works of the artist diverged unprecedented circulations. Buy an engraving of Hogarth was considered fashionable in all sectors of society, from aristocrats who acquired the originals, to small shopkeepers and port workers, who willingly decorated with inexpensive reproductions the walls of their homes.
FAMOUS GRAVERS OF ENGLAND.
The first in the series of outstanding English engravers of the period of the rise and flowering of the national school of engraving is John Smith (1652-1742). He worked in the technique of mezzotint and was perhaps the most famous master of this technique in Europe. Most often, Smith reproduced the work of his outstanding contemporary, the painter Godfrey Neller (1646-1723).