A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers, 1714–1820 David Alexander

Publication date:
23 Nov 2021
Paul Mellon Centre
1120 pages: 235 x 156mm


The first reference work to cover all engravers working on copper in Britain and Ireland 1714–1820

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 Some 3,000 biographical entries draw on much unpublished information, researched over four decades, notably records of apprenticeship, genealogy, insurance and bankruptcy as well as newspaper advertisements and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.

“[Alexander] writes convincingly about how the explosion of prints in that period reflected not only artistic ability, and the desire to render paintings in print, but also the need — pre-photography — to disseminate knowledge of British advances in exploration, navigation, architecture, natural history, engineering and technology’, as well as banknotes and share certificates.”—Charles Moore, Spectator