A book exploring the artwork of Thomas Bewick (1753–1828), an English wood engraver, focusing on commercial work that he produced such as advertisements.
Thomas Bewick's illustrations of plants and animals have dramatically influenced the development of the illustrated book both in Britain and America. Although he is widely presented as a natural history artist (in the traditional sense), Bewick's wood engraving workshop was a business catering for the demands of local customers, from the gentry who wanted crests on silver cutlery to clockmakers who needed engraved dials.
This book reinstates Thomas Bewick in the world of trade and material culture, revealing his long- forgotten contribution to the development of what we would now call graphic design.
About the Author
Nigel Tattersfield is an independent scholar and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He has written extensively on the engravers Thomas and John Bewick and his most recent publication is the three- volume Thomas Bewick: the Complete Illustrative Work (2011).
More about Thomas Bewick: Graphic Worlds
Bewick was no isolated genius communing with nature or toiling in an artist’s atelier, but a jobbing engraver busily plying his trade in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne at the very moment when the Industrial Revolution was beginning to change the world. As an artist-craftsman Bewick possessed an exceptional talent, but his workshop was a business, catering for the demands of local customers, from the gentry who wanted crests on silver cutlery to clockmakers who needed engraved dials.
However, Newcastle was also an important printing centre, so Bewick received commissions for illustrations for children’s books, showmen’s posters, tobacco wrappers and a host of other commercial items, which he infused with his own flair for originality. Over the ensuing years this ephemeral material has been unjustly marginalized, most notably by the Victorians, keen to promote Bewick as an artist pure and simple.
Illustrated with examples from the unrivalled collection of the British Museum, some never previously published, Thomas Bewick: Graphic Worlds allows a rare glimpse of his everyday commissions and provides a historical perspective to the images displayed.