History of the River Thames, 1793-5
John Boydell was one of the greatest ‘patron-publisher’ of his day and his History of the River Thames, one of his greatest successes. With seventy-six plates by the renowned aquatint engraver Joseph Sadler after landscapes by Joseph Farrington, RA, Boydell’s Thames takes us on a journey from Thames Head in Gloucestershire through Berkshire and Oxfordshire, eventually reaching London where pastoral scenes give way to growing industry and trade.
For some time Boydell himself rode the tide of a flourishing export trade in British prints and in 1790 his publishing success was complemented by his appointment as Lord Mayor of London. However, within a few years the troubles in France destroyed the export market and his business collapsed. For several decades he had been the greatest patron of his age, bringing employment and wealth to countless painters and leaving a legacy of some of the finest topographical and historical engravings of the eighteenth century of which Boydell’s Thames is one of the best examples.
Fantaisies Oceanographiques, 1926
In the early 1920’s the elegant curves and subtle tones of the Art Noveau were giving way to the geometric patterns and bold colours of the Art Deco. The ideals of the Art & Crafts movement that developed alongside both styles were popularising new approaches and products as affordable alternatives making art and design more accessible. Wallpaper in place of tapestries and silk wall coverings being one such example.
An ‘ensemblier’ or ‘artiste decoratuer’, forerunner of the Interior Designer, would soon become essential for the aspiring fashionable with many employed by the Parisian grande magasins to create patterns for fabrics, wallpapers and rugs. Designs were created using the Pouchoir process, a stencil-based technique made popular by the fashion magazines and put together in ‘ensemblier’ portfolios.
Stencils had been in use since the 16th century but it was the influence of Japanese printing in the 19th century that saw the process further refined to create the Pouchoir technique, which required numerous stencils cut by a ‘découpeur’ from aluminium, copper, or zinc and eventually celluloid or plastic. These were then arranged by the ‘coloristes’ who used a variety of brushes and application methods to lay the pigments and create the finished article. At the height of its popularity, the Paris graphic design studios employed more than 500 ‘découpeurs’ and ‘coloristes’. This portfolio designed by E. H. Raskin for the studio of F. Dumas in the Fifth Arrondissement focused on sea life and was limited to 250 copies.
Although the popularity of Pouchoir prints would last throughout the 1930s, the exuberance of the Art Deco ended with Great Depression. Many of studios that employed so many craftsmen would slowly close and the designs for wallpaper and textiles would become subdued with smaller repeated details favouring charcoals, dusty browns and murky greens.
Matthaus Merian the younger
Great Fire of London in 1666, published c1670
A prospect taken from Southwark and extending from Whitehall to the Tower of London with key to twenty landmarks and the notable inclusion of the Globe Theatre, which had been pulled down twenty years prior by the Parliamentarians. Southwark is unscathed as is the densely populated London Bridge owing to a cleared area from an earlier fire having acted as an unintended break.
On the 2nd September 1666 shortly after midnight at the premises of the King’s baker Thomas Farryner, Pudding Lane a small fire began that would sweep across the City of London changing the cityscape forever. London had no fire brigade and would rely instead on Londoners aided by soldiers to fight the blaze with buckets of water, water squirts and hooking – pulling down houses with hooks to create gaps to act as fire breaks. Fire posts were set up around the City with over a hundred men at each and eventually employing gunpowder to speed demolition for the breaks. After several days the fire was defeated but not before it had destroyed over 13,000 houses, churches and livery halls, the western gates of Ludgate, Newgate, and Aldersgate and damaged vital institutions such as the Guildhall and St Paul’s Cathedral. Remarkably only six lives were claimed from the City population of more than 350,000 although more than half would become homeless overnight as the fire decimated hundreds of acres of the ‘Square Mile’. London would enter a defining period of reconstruction with the City residents and businessmen beginning planning almost from the moment the embers cooled.
In 1671 the Monument to commemorate the Great Fire and the rebuilding of the City was built near to its origins on the site of St Margaret, New Fish Street, the first church to be destroyed. Around the same time a Putti known as The Fat Boy was installed in a niche near to where the fire had ended at the corner of Cock Lane and Giltspur Street. Later gilded, the Golden Boy of Pye Corner can still be found serving as a reminder to Londoners of the Great Fire that went from Pudding lane to Pye Corner and it’s true cause – the sin of gluttony. For more on the Great Fire, please see our blog The Great Fire 1666 and to see more of our original antique prints of London, please click London For further enquires and price lists, please do contact us.
Friedrich Justin Bertuch
Bilderbuch für Kinder, 1792-1805
Prior to the 17th century the concept of childhood as an independent phase of life did not exist and it was not until the 18th century that education of children would dramatically improve. Pivotal to the alteration in attitude was the publication of the great Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Émile, or On Education in 1762; his ideas would critically influence European society during the Age of Reason and especially the Romantic movement of the latter part of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
In the same year Rosseau’s Emile was published, Frederich Bertuch’s father died and he moved to the home of his uncle the literary publisher Gottfried Schrön where he soon acquired a great love of literature and natural philosophy. In 1775 he issued his translation of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Qixote; a significant work to the Romantic movement. In that same year, he became private secretary to the Duke of Saxe Weimar who funded his Fürstliche freie Zeichenschule Weimar (Weimer Princely Free Drawing School), accepting students on merit not status with the particular aim of teaching local craftsmen technical skills and aesthetics – the philosophy of beauty and taste. Under the Duke’s patronage Weimer became the intellectual hub of Germany and Bertuch one of its most important citizens, establishing an art factory and publishing many titles including Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, the most influential literary newspaper of its time with important philosophers such as Johann von Goethe and Frederich Schiller contributing.
From 1792 Bertuch issued in instalments the Bilderbuch für Kinder; a children’s picture book of coloured and uncoloured plates illustrating the arts and sciences with an emphasis on natural history, innovation and lesser known objects to inspire an enthusiasm for the unknown. Produced by the teachers and students of the Zeichenschule, the Bilderbuch was designed to be presented in unbound parts and treated more as a toy to play with; the uncoloured illustrations to be coloured, the images even cut out and pasted onto card. This was a substantial departure from earlier children’s books which emphasized saving souls through moral instruction and model behaviour.
In 1806 Bertuch’s aspirations for his enterprises were cut short by Napoleon’s defeat of Prussian forces at Jena and Auerstedt, bringing an end to the Holy Roman Empire and heralding the decline of Weimer. In that same year the Bohemian editors Pohmann and Hollaubeck ‘republished’ Bertuch’s Bilderbuch without permission but under his name; the ‘stolen goods’ were crude and ‘despicably’ inferior. Bertuch repeatedly issued angry denunciations but to no avail. Following the death of his only son and business partner Carl in 1815 and unable to establish consistent copyright legislation to protect his works, his literary enthusiasm faltered. He died in 1822 and was buried in his beloved garden.
In his lifetime Bertuch modestly described himself as a ‘literary midwife’ but his contribution to education, the arts and the dissemination of Enlightenment ideals was significant. His Bilderbuch für Kinder remains one of the best examples of illustrated children’s books and a delightful visualization of the individual endeavor and philosophical discourse that defined the Age of Reason.
For enquires and price lists, please do contact us.
Pomona Britannica, 1812, 1817
George Brookshaw retired as a cabinet maker to become a successful teacher, artist and publisher of botanical subjects. Brookshaw’s magnus opus, Pomona Britannica, was ten years in the making and depicted over two hundred and fifty-six varieties of fruit grown in some of London’s most celebrated gardens, and in particular, the Royal Gardens at Hampton Court. He initially published his botanical studies in parts, and then as a complete work in 1812.
Engraved in aquatint and stipple, printed in colour and finished by hand, Pomona Britannica depicted fruit in a stylized composition against an aquatint background for a striking contrast and dramatic effect. At a time when folio flower-books were having difficulty finding purchasers, Brookshaw’s fruits proved a resounding success. Indeed, in 1817 a fine quarto edition was published with little expense spared.
Although Brookshaw produced subsequent works none would match the grandeur of Pomona Britannica, which may be considered one of the finest colour plate books ever published.
Spring Exhibition 2023
Kristjana S. Williams at The Map House
10th March – 21st April 2023
Approach of the Simoon, 1842 (Subscribers’ Edition)
After a brief career as a housepainter in Perth, David Roberts began work in 1816 as a scenery painter and in 1824 exhibited for the first time at the British Institution in London. That same year, the artist helped to found the Society of British Artists and began travelling throughout Europe. Roberts created numerous drawings during a trip to Spain, a little known country in Britain, which were later published but it was Robert’s visit to the Near East in 1838-9 that became “the great central episode of his artistic life” , establishing him as one of the most celebrated artists of his day.
Between 1842 and 1849 the Belgian lithographer Louis Haghe executed lithographs after Robert’s drawings which were issued in monthly installments and bound into volumes under the unwieldy title, The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. The work was a great success. Associations with a biblical past appealed to the Victorian imagination and Roberts was determined to use his own artistic talents to surpass earlier works on the subject. In order to create a true impression of the visual and emotional impact of the scenes witnessed, Roberts often forsook topographical accuracy in favour of dramatic pictorial effect. The first professional English artist to visit Egypt independently of a patron or expedition, Roberts set a standard for topographical illustration that remains unchallenged to this day and his Simoon the most desirable of all of his images.
Heraldry as known today largely originated from medieval times when striking designs were employed to easily distinguish between friend or foe during battle as much of the population were illiterate. Possibly inspired by legal seals, these early coats of arms were assumed by individual bearers and designed according to their personal preferences. From the 15th century in England, arms were granted by the Crown to living persons, their legitimate heirs and to legal entities such as Livery companies, universities and learned societies, and overseen by the College of Arms, which developed an elaborate language of design and meaning. Military arms were decided not by the College but by the colonel of a regiment until that was banned by the Crown in the 18th century. The Royal Navy expressed itself in the often extravagant figureheads on ships, also banned in the 18th century but did not employ formal heraldry until after WWI. Businesses did not have coats of arms but instead sought to acquire a Royal Warrant. Established in the late 15th century to replace the Royal Charter that had existed since the mid 12th century, the Royal Warrant gave the bearer the right to display the Royal coats of arms as a purveyor of goods to the monarchy. The Map House was granted a Royal Warrant as Suppliers of Maps to the Prince of Wales in 1920.
In the Victorian era heraldry became immensely popular influenced by the Gothic revival and Romantic movement, which arguably valued sincerity over authenticity and as such adherence to process was rather fluid. The newly rich and ambitious middle classes often invented or assumed arms particularly where they could match a surname, irrespective of arms not being granted to surnames themselves. They could also simply utilise a ‘crest’, usually the animal that rests above the shield, to suggest the existence of a full coat of arms. The more fastidious would pay the Armorial Bearings Duty, instituted to help finance the Napoleonic Wars and not repealed until after WWI, which was charged on armorial bearings “whether registered in the college of arms or not”, thus giving a pseudo official stamp of legitimacy to arms that had not been properly granted for a noble lineage that did not exist. Soon heraldic crests were appearing on everything from tobacco tins to tea towels until the fashion finally petered out during WWI.
Romeyn de Hooghe
The Glorious Revolution c1689
In 1688 William of Orange, grandson of King Charles I, triumphantly entered London after James II (James VII of Scotland) fled to France. The Glorious Revolution as it came to be known was completed the following year with the coronation of William III and Mary II, daughter of James II, and the passing of the landmark Bill of Rights, legislation protecting civil liberties, limiting the crown’s power and confirming the authority of parliament. Romeyn de Hooghe, artist, author, lawyer, inventor and spy, recorded those momentous events in this pair of etchings. Although de Hooghe was an avid propagandist of William III he was not part of the peaceful invasion but rather relied on the sketches sent to him of a draughtsman known only as Hekhusien. In the first view De Hooghe shows the enthusiastic reception of the Prince of Orange on entering London with a pre-Great Fire of 1666 skyline as the city was still largely under scaffold. The second view is of William III presiding in the House of Commons, with a smaller sketch of the House of Lords above. On the walls hang the famous Hendrick Vroom Armada Tapestries commissioned in 1590 by Lord Admiral Howard to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Hung in the Lords from around 1650, they were lost in the fire of 1834 which largely destroyed the Palace of Westminster.
Until the late 13th century ‘harvest’, from the Anglo-Saxon word hærfest, was one of the names for the season after summer in the British Isles. From about that time ‘autumn’, from the Latin autumnus, started to be employed as the specific name until eventually harvest was no longer the season but more the act of crop gathering.
The end of harvest time was usually celebrated around the autumnal equinox and Michaelmas (Feast of St Michael All Angels) at the end of September, although many important crops such as apples are harvested in October as are seasonal fruits such as elderberry. Following the calendar reform of 1752, the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian and feast dates were ordered to be held on their traditional dates. Michaelmas was moved forward to the 10th of October and became known as ‘Old Michaelmas Day’. Preceded by the Hunter’s Moon, the first full moon since the Harvest Moon, Old Michaelmas is also known as ‘Goose Day’ as tradition had it a goose fattened on stubble warned off financial need in the winter. It is also the last day for blackberry picking, being the day Lucifer was thrown from heaven by St Michael and landed on a blackberry bush for which he annually curses it.
In the mid-19th century nearly thirty five percent of the population of England and Wales were regularly employed as farmworkers with casual and migrant workers swelling numbers at harvest. In 1840 the Royal Agricultural Society of England was formed to pursue new technologies in farming. Subsequently the 1850s and 60s were a golden age for farmers and labourers with good prices and low imports and advances in machinery initially increasing the need for even more workers as yields increased. Soon however machines were being designed for fewer hands as industrialisation was reducing the supply of workers whilst the decline of the horse and rise of motor cars and railways were transforming landscapes and rural communities. By the start of the twentieth century the percentage of the population working in agriculture fell to eleven percent and today is around one percent.
To see more of our original antique prints relevant to Autumn please click Horses & Domestic Animals, Field Sports, Fruit, Mushrooms & Vegetables and Science & Technology, For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
Seventy percent of the Earth’s surface is water and ninety seven percent of that is found in the salty oceans but the study of the oceans, Oceanography, didn’t begin in earnest until the expedition of HMS Challenger 1872-76. For every civilizations the importance of oceans for food, transportation, trade and so much more cannot be overstated but its study was largely left to sailors and amateur enthusiasts. Throughout the history of art and design motifs of oceanic life made their way into the designs of the Fine and Decorative arts, often dominating periods such as the Rococo and Art Noveau, but with an emphasis on the particular elements rather than the oceans as a whole. Although many of the earliest depictions of what lurks beneath were often little more than fantasies, by the end of the nineteenth century the illustrations available were both highly accurate and artistic to meet the demands of scientists as well as the wider public. Today Oceanography encompasses all aspects of the scientific study of oceans from ecosystems to seafloor geology to currents and waves.
A Prospect of Stone-henge From the west, A Prospect of Stone-henge From the south, 1715
Engraved at the end of the seventeenth century by David Loggan, a journeyman engraver who had settled in England, this double panorama of the ‘rude Gigantick Pile’ was after the 1662 drawings of Willem Schellinks, one of the most widely travelled Dutch artists of his day. This scarce view, often referred to as The Bustards in reference to the birds that nest there, also remarks on the myths and fables surrounding the origin and purpose of the site, ‘most worthy its Authors whosoever they were’. The admiration of and draw towards Stonehenge continues today particularly at the time of the Summer Solstice, 21 June.
Eden or a Compleat Body of Gardening, 1757
John Hill grew out of obscurity to become one of the most prominent and controversial botanists of the 18th century, accredited with popularising the Linnean system but often forgotten in the review of great botanical works. Little is known of his early life. Born around 1716/7 he was later apprenticed to an apothecary, attending lectures at the Chelsea Physic garden sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries. He travelled the country collecting plants which he assembled into sets and sold by subscription, later making the acquaintance of Sir Hans Sloane and gaining employment as a garden and collection designer for the Duke of Richmond and Lord Petrie. Finding botany largely unprofitable Hill turned to work as an actor, appearing at the Haymarket and Covent Garden with rather disparaging reviews, briefly served as a regimental surgeon and then issued a re-working of Theophrastus’s History of Stones. This treatise brought him much admiration from eminent Fellows of the Royal Society, and he became editor of the British Magazine writing prolifically on all manner of subjects.
In 1751 Hill joined the London Advertiser and Literary Gazette as the highest paid journalist of his time. He wrote a daily letter, The Inspector, through which he gained celebrity and stoked controversy amongst his scientific peers particularly those eminent Fellows of the Royal Society some of whom he designated as little more than ‘butterfly hunters’, ‘cockle shell merchants’ and ‘medal scrapers’. Not surprisingly his candid critiques failed to gain him fellowship of the Royal Society and he resorted to a further campaign of criticism bringing him into fresh disputes but certainly elevating the general interest in botany as no Fellow had done. Regardless, Hill lost his lucrative writing post and then turned his hand at being a herbalist. Preparing remedies and writing on medicinal benefits, he was soon earning vast sums of money and again enjoying his notoriously extravagant lifestyle much to the irritation of his detractors.
From August 1756 to October 1757 Hill began issuing a weekly series on practical and ornamental plants for the kitchen and garden, Eden or a Compleat Body of Gardening, intended as a companion piece to his A Compleat Body of Husbandry. Both of these works were issued under the pseudonym of Thomas Hale, and received good reviews from a number of unsuspecting Fellows undoubtedly to Hill’s delight. With contributions from himself and various artists, each plate usually consisted of six plants organised by season with a later edition including twenty plates of individual plants. Although critical of the works of Carl Linnaeus it is here that he begins the introduction to England of the science of identifying, naming and classifying organisms. As with most of his works its was immensely successful.
At the end of the 1750’s Hill came under the patronage of the Earl of Bute who encouraged him in the production of his monumental The Vegetable System. Disastrously after its launch in 1761, Bute was unexpectedly appointed prime minister, causing him to lose interest and cease funding. Hill felt honour bound to persist with the project as advertised; he completed 26 folios with some 1600 plates but died in 1775 exhausted and impoverished. In his lifetime Hill divided opinion and brought much disdain upon himself but the success of his works and his contributions to the study of botany cannot be diminished; as one historian suggested, he was simply born ‘fifty years too soon’.
Cassell, Petter & Galpin/Cassell & Co
The Book of the Horse c1877 & The Book of the Dog c1890
Animals have played a significant role in Western arts, culture and society, and known more so than the horse and the dog. Domesticated in almost every culture as companions and workmates, they have been defined by selective breeding. All modern horse breeds stem from two distinct lines and were developed for specific roles from the powerhouse draft horses to the nimble thoroughbreds. Dog breeds have similarly been developed for particular purposes but with an emphasis on companionship and fulfilling the unique role they play in and out of the home.
In the nineteenth century as all areas of knowledge were expanding and potential markets growing, publishers increasingly sought to attract custom with a mixture of traditionally popular subjects and highly decorative techniques. The prolific Cassell publishing house issued The Book of the Horse and The Book of the Dog with chromolithographed plates of celebrated examples of breed. Introduced in around 1839, chromolithography allowed for the layering of colour to emulate the richness of oil paintings, bringing fine art into the home at a more affordable price. Each colour required a separate stone to be used and the overall effect relied heavily on the skill of the lithographer. An immensely popular format for art aimed at the ever expanding consumers of Victorian society, Cassell’s series have stood the test of time and remain highly collectable today.
London in 1560 (Ralph Agas), Cassell, Petter & Gilpin c1865
London in 1647 (Wenceslaus Hollar), Robert Martin 1832
London in 1560 (Folding plan published by Cassell, Petter & Gilpin c1865)
The magnificent Civitas Londinum plan of London was originally printed around 1561 and attributed to the Suffolk surveyor Ralph Agas. No example of that plan survives and instead it is known from a 1633 edition which incorrectly dates it as 1560. London is shown largely as it was at the accession of Elizabeth 1; the Roman wall no longer confines the city, St Paul’s is without its spire which collapsed in 1561, London Bridge alone spans the Thames, and Southwark is included with its bull and bear baiting arenas. London has finally recovered from the Black Plague of the 14th century, which saw its population halved, and has considerably increased in size and wealth with the Thames a buoyant highway for trade and travel. The most accurate depiction of Shakespeare’s London, there are two notable additions to the first Agas plan – the Royal Exchange, completed in 1571 can be seen where Cornhill and Leadenhall streets converge, and the Stuart coat of arms, in use from 1603, has replaced the Tudor arms although it is still apparent on the royal barge.
London in 1647 (Folding panorama published by Robert Martin 1832)
Wenceslaus Hollar’s monumental panorama of London was primarily based on a series of drawings he made whilst living in London. Hollar left England during the early years of the English Civil War, and in Antwerp relied on his sketches and an earlier 1616 panorama by Claes Visscher to complete his view. As a result, the bear baiting pit and the Globe theatre are in reverse repeating the mistake made by Visscher. Hollar’s London has not changed considerably since the Civitas; it is still only served by London Bridge and St Paul’s remains without its spire. At the north end of London Bridge can be seen a wooden fence, a safety measure erected after a fire in 1633 destroyed numerous buildings on the bridge and Thames Street. The slow pace of rebuilding would later serve as a firebreak for the densely inhabited bridge. In less than twenty years’ time London would be ravaged by another plague in 1664-6 and the Great Fire of 1666; the first decimated the population by a third whilst the second consumed nearly 500 acres and over 13,000 buildings, permanently altering the cityscape.
In 1832 when Robert Martin published his edition of the Hollar view, London was still relatively undeveloped; the Thames was unembanked, the railway was yet to be built and London was entering into a second cholera pandemic. By the time John Cassell and his associates issued their edition of the Agas plan a little over twenty years later the Thames was nearly completely embanked, a new sewer system in place, largely ending the threat of cholera, and the first underground line had been established. The rate of development, growth and wealth in the 19th century far exceeded anything that London had experienced previously; it became the financial and trading centre of the world, its largest city and largest port, a position it retained into the 20th century.
Josiah Wood Whymper
SPCK – Plates Illustrative of Natural History, c 1857
Josiah Wood Whymper began his artistic career initially hoping to become a sculptor but soon turned to watercolours and engraving. Whilst working at the Penny Magazine Whymper quickly recognised the advantages of wood engravings for illustrated publications, and established a studio with his brother Ebenezar. Wood engraving used blocks which could be fitted into letter presses allowing for text and images of fine detail to be printed together, and at a fraction of the cost of using separate steel plates for images.
In his time Whymper was a much in demand master of the technique, working with the great natural history artist Joseph Wolf as well as providing images for Dr Livingston’s missionary travels, Edward Lane’s Arabian Knights, Joseph Hooker’s Himalayan journals and prolific publishers the SPCK (Society for the Profusion of Christian Knowledge).
The SPCK was founded in 1698 to promote religion and education, particularly in prisons and for children. Prior to the 19th century only a limited number of children received an education; schooling was developed and driven by the church and charities like the SPCK before the Education Act of 1880 began formal state education.
Whymper was commissioned to produce lively images which were accompaned by eloquent text. Amongst the pages of the SPCK children could transport themselves to far away lands with images of animals they were unlikely to ever see; menageries were generally private and the Zoological Society London was not open to the public until 1847.
Whymper’s son Edward, better known for completing the first ascent of the Matterhorn, continued his father’s work but soon wood engraving gave way to photography and Edward could earn considerably more with guidebooks and enthusiastic lectures on mountaineering. The SPCK continues to publish to this day.
To see more original antique prints of Natural History, please click Natural History and for the blog on natural history, please click The Nature of Collecting. For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
King Arthur’s Round Table
Encyclopaedia londinensi, 1829
Shortly after his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror built Winchester Castle. Reconstructed under Henry III in the 13th century, the castle’s destruction was ordered by Oliver Cromwell but with a pardon granted to the magnificent great hall and its fabled table of the 5th century King Arthur Pendragon. The round table at Camelot was first mentioned in Robert Wace’s Roman de Brut (1155) and then developed in significance in Robert de Borron’s Joseph d’Arimathie (c1200). In de Borron’s poem Joseph made a table in remembrance of the Last Supper with one seat, known as the Siege Perilous, left vacant to symbolise Judas the betrayer of Christ. Modelled on the Grail Table, the Round Table was made for Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father, by the sorcerer Merlin; the empty seat could now only be be filled by whomsoever attained the Holy Grail, the chalice from which Christ drank at the Last Supper, symbolic of spiritual attainment and redemption.
The first mention of the Winchester table, already dismantled and hanging on the wall, appeared in 1464. A substantial eighteen feet in diameter the table bears the name of twenty four knights famously in a circle so no knight could take precedence over another. Once revered as the original table, Winchester having asserted itself as the site of Camelot, the oak has now been dated to just after the castle’s reconstruction to around 1250-80. Further embellishments were added during the reign of Henry VIII whose desire to promote himself as a bearer of the Arthurian legend continued a tradition that endures today.
Around the World, 1867 (1874)
Eduard Hildebrandt first trained as a house painter before entering the studio of the marine artist Wilhelm Krause. After travelling to Paris in 1840, where he studied watercolour techniques and landscape painting, Hildebrandt befriended the eminent German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. It was through Humboldt that he received his first major commission from the king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, to paint a view of Rio de Janeiro.
This expedition inspired many more journeys culminating in his round-the-world voyage 1862-64. From this Hildebrandt produced several hundred watercolour and pencil sketches taken from nature and direct observation, a selection of which were published as chromolithographs in his Reise um die Erde (Around the World) in 1867. He died ithe following year. Hildebrandt’s style is marked by loose, almost proto-Impressionist brushwork, as well as a vibrant use of colour and contrast. Chromolithography, the first viable method of printing colour, was ideally suited as a means of conveying his work in printed form; the painstaking layering of colours demanded by the process ensured that the prints stayed true to Hildebrandt’s bold and dramatic vision of the world.
These evocative images are among the most recognisable and collectable topographical prints published during the nineteenth century. For views of all the world, please click Around the World For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
My Hunting Sketch Book , The Sportsman’s Bag, 1927-38
Lionel Edwards was one of the most competent and exciting equestrian artists of the early twentieth century. With an obvious talent from an early age Edwards attended Calderon’s School of Animal Painting in London in the 1890’s and became the youngest member of the London Sketch Club providing work for Country Life. The Graphic and The Sphere from his small studio in Kensington. When WWI began Edwards enlisted in the Army Remount Service as a purchasing officer alongside Cecil Aldin and Sir Alfred Munnings. During the War the ARS handled well over half million horses with a budget of over £50 million.
After the war Edwards went on to write and illustrate more than thirty works including My Hunting Sketch Book and The Sportsman’s Bag. He also provided illustrations for other publications including Rudyard Kipling’s The Maltese Cat (1936) and Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1946) but it was his depiction of equestrian sports particularly hunting for which he gained renown. Edwards was a keen huntsman, hunting with almost every pack in England and Ireland, and could often be seen painting from his horse or a bicycle.
The masterly depiction of the horse in movement together with sensitive impressionistic landscapes made Edwards one of Britain’s most celebrated sporting artists and he is often described as ‘the grand old man of British sporting art’. Although Edwards continued working until the 1960’s, it is for these evocative interwar works for which he is most recognised today.
To see more original antique prints by Lionel Edwards, of Field Sports and/or Horses, please click Lionel Edwards , Field Sports or Horses & Domestic Animals For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes, 1673
In 1647 Richard Ligon, a royalist who had lost his fortune in the English Civil War, set sail for Barbados. Ligon worked as a plantation manager until 1650 when ill health brought him back to England where he was promptly seized upon for his debts and imprisoned for three years. During his imprisonment he composed A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes published in London in 1657 and again in 1673. A best seller, it included several sketches of plants not least the Queen Pine or pineapple and remained the principal reference on Barbados for more than half a century.
In 1668 the pineapple was introduced into England for cultivation and by the early 17th century the fruits were achieving prices around £60 approximately £5000 today. Pineapples would be traded and rented for display but rarely eaten save in the wealthiest households where they were segmented on bespoke stands and pedestals. Charles II was depicted with a pineapple being presented to him and numerous artists were commissioned to likewise include pineapples in portraits, continuing the tradition of food ‘selfies’ as an expression of taste, wealth and power.
By the mid 1850s pineapples lost their cache owing to the increasing ease with which they were imported and were soon replaced by the rarer, luxury vegetable – celery. To see more original antique prints of fruit, please click Fruits, Vegetables & Mushrooms For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Arnoldus Montanus/Pieter Van der Aa
Iedo (Tokyo), c1650 (1729)
At the beginning of the 18th century Iedo (Edo), present day Tokyo, was one of the fastest growing cities in the world. From 1603 Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate which immediately began expelling the influential Jesuits and other catholic orders that had been expanding there throughout the 16th century. Foreign trade became heavily restricted; the British East India Co closed its factories in 1623 and by 1639 trade with Europe was entirely limited to the Dutch who were confined to the tiny island of Dejima off Nagasaki. In the mid 17th century the Dutch East India Co sent several embassies to Edo which in turn provided the material for Arnoldus Montanus’s significant work on the country published in 1669, and the main resource for the next fifty years.
In 1729 the prolific publisher Pieter van der Aa issued his monumental La Galerie Agreable du Monde which included numerous views based upon the works of Montanus. Edo is shown as it was prior to the great fire of 1657 with the old city centred around the Castle of Edo (Imperial Palace). Numerous landmarks are indicated with particular emphasis on the many palaces which much impressed Montanus, and in the foreground is a tributary procession returning from the court of the Shogun (this tributary route to Edo was the only opportunity for the Dutch to leave their tiny island).
For more than two hundred and fifty years the Empire of Japan developed with little influence from the West. However by the mid 19th century incursions from the outside world could no longer be resisted, and the feudal system of the shogunate and Japan’s isolation came to an end.
Florence, 1744 (1774)
During the 17th and 18th century an essential element of any young gentlemen’s education was the ‘Grand Tour’. Intended to lend polish and sophistication the usual itinerary included study of the Arts in the preeminent cities of Europe with a special place reserved for Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance and seat of the Medici’s. A principal settlement of the Etruscan civilisation from the 9th century BC, Fiesole was destroyed by the Romans and the garrison of Firenze later established in its place by Julius Caesar 59 BC.
The turbulent rise of Florence magnificently developed its appearance and in the 1730’s the Marchese Andrea Gerini commissioned the local artist Giuseppe Zocchi to produce a series on the city’s most significant landmarks. Zocchi’s views captured Florence in the last days of the Medici’s as the dynasty begun in the 14th century became extinct with the death of the youngest son of Cosimo III.
From the mid 1740’s Florentine publishers issued engravings after Zocchi’s works which later came to the attention of Robert Sayer, a renowned London entrepreneur and publisher. At the time Sayer issued Zocchi’s views in 1774, Florence and all of Tuscany had become part of the lands of the Austrian crown and the Holy Roman Empire, enjoying a period of resurgence under Emperor Leopold II.
From the beginning of the 19th century, the idea of the Grand Tour would become increasingly commonplace as industries and transport opened up the continent to mass tourism, and soon artistic focus turned toward far flung locations in Asia and Africa which were becoming more accessible. To see more of our original antique views of Florence, please click Italy and for the other countries of Europe, please click Europe For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
In the 17th century a veritable madness for collecting shells took hold of Europe. Driven by the increase in exploration and commerce, particularly of the Dutch East India Company, shells were traded privately by sailors and company administrators with dealers waiting at the docks to vie for the newest specimens. Extraordinary finds from the sea floor were in great demand for the collecting cabinets of wealthy aristocrats and serious naturalists, and Conchylomania soon became a rival to Tulipmania, the one expressing the immutable the other the ephemeral. Although the hysteria for tulips had a spectacular crash in the mid 17th century the interest in shells only grew in response to the insatiable appetite for the new, the exotic and the status of possessing that which no one else had.
Shells became an essential design element in the Baroque period, particularly the later Rococo, and dominated all areas of the decorative arts until the end of the 18th century. The mania reached its peak at the 1796 auction of the collection of the Dutch naturalist Pierre Lyonet whose prized Nautile Vitré, Carinaria cristata, one of only two known examples, sold for 299 fl. (Dutch guilders) famously exceeding the amount realised for Johann Vermeer’s now priceless Women in Blue Reading a Letter, which Lyonet’s estate had sold five years earlier for 43 guilders. Throughout the 19th century shell collecting continued to be popular with the upper classes, and expanded to the aspirational middle classes but never quite reached the heady days of the 18th century.
For the most part collectors, even those with a scientific interest, had little regard for the inhabitants of shells; malacology the study of molluscs as opposed to conchology the study of their shells only came into being at the start of the 19th century. Principally made up of Calcium carbonate, the main component of seawater, molluscs began developing their outer casings some 500 million years ago evolving a fantastic range of shapes to thwart predators in addition to providing shelter. During a particular boom in mollusc shell building the subsequent depletion of calcium is believed to be responsible for rendering the earth’s atmosphere more conducive to the evolution of humans.
Today more than 100,000 known type of shells have been identified, and as the habitats of molluscs have become more accessible and the shells seemingly less rare even the once most expensive examples like the Conus goriamaris, the glory of the seas, are now available at auction for a few thousand pounds. However one can anticipate that in time the competition of collectors and exploitation of habitat will increase scarcity until once again shells command a king’s ransom.
Nouvelles Vues de Paris, c1860
In 1848 Louis-Napoleon Buonaparte, nephew of the Emperor Napoleon, became the first president of the Second Republic of France, and three years later in true Buonaparte style claimed the throne of France as his own ruling as Napoleon III until 1870. The period of the Deuxieme Empire ushered in considerable alterations to the infrastructure of France, and a complete remodelling of Paris under a vast improvement scheme largely of Baron George-Eugene Haussmann. Swathes of medieval Paris were demolished to make way for Haussmann’s signature boulevards of architecturally conformist cream buildings as well as the new stations, theatres, markets, monuments, avenues, and sewers with parks and gardens to rival those of London.
Throughout the Deuxieme Empire the artist Phillipe Benoist in collaboration with numerous publishers and supported by the most accomplished of his fellow artists, including his brother Felix, issued views of Paris recording its metamorphosis. Acclaimed for his draughtsmanship and traditionally working from life, Benoist would also embrace photography, the new rival to landscape lithography. Taking advantage of its immediate accuracy in concert with his skills allowed for a greater focus on vibrancy and fluidity of composition, Benoist’s emotive and precise depictions capture Paris just as it is transforming into the herald of progress, and vanguard of ‘modern’ urban living.