Published in 1792, Thomas Malton’s Picturesque Tour is remarkable, if not unique, in that all the plates of which it is composed were engraved and aquatinted by the artist in person. The secret of the aquatint process which allowed for gentle gradations of tone similar to those of watercolour paintings was developed in France in 1768 by Le Prince and crossed the Channel in 1774. It was passed on to Paul Sandby, who applied it to his 24 Views in Wales, published in the three succeeding years. Malton’s project was on an altogether larger scale as it was not only the first considerable collection of London views engraved in aquatint but also the first large British aquatint series on any topic.
Although the title of his work, A Picturesque Tour, suggests Malton’s concern lay with presenting a restful image of the city, much of his work is characterised by plunging perspectives and vigorous architectural clarity – traits which Malton nurtured in his young pupil William Turner upon whom he had a considerable influence.
Below are a few examples from this collection of original antique Malton aquatints. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the full list of views available, please do contact us.