New Book | A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers

Posted in books by Editor on January 31, 2022

From Yale UP:

David Alexander, A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers, 1714–1820 (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2022), 1120 pages, ISBN: 978-1913107215, $125.

This biographical dictionary of engravers working on copper encompasses both those who produced fine art prints, and also those who engraved book illustrations for medical, technical, and literary works, all of which played a more important part than is usually realised in spreading information in the age of Enlightenment. Some 3,000 biographical entries draw on much unpublished information, researched over four decades, notably records of apprenticeship, genealogy, insurance, and bankruptcy as well as newspaper advertisements and contemporary accounts.

This is the first reference work to cover all engravers working on copper in Britain and Ireland 1714–1820. Many biographical entries describe celebrated engravers producing ‘fine art’ prints of paintings, which spread knowledge about living and dead artists. However, this book also builds up a more complex picture of the occupation of printmaking and includes engravers, many previously unresearched, who engraved ephemeral material, such as trade cards, bank notes, and satirical prints as well as the images that spread knowledge across literary, geographical, historical, topographical, medical, and technical fields.

David Alexander is a historian and honorary keeper of British prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and a member of the editorial board of Print Quarterly.

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