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ENGLISH CARICATURE.

A significant part of old English engravings are caricatures. The genre of caricature itself existed before. Leonardo da Vinci’s caricatures are known, and many of Bruegel’s and Bosch’s canvases have obvious satire features. But it is in England of the XVIII century that the caricature gains unprecedented popularity and becomes a real phenomenon of public life due to the increased level of education of the population and the great interest shown by all layers of English society to the political life of the country.

The subjects of the cartoons were very different. Artists depicted important events, famous people of the era, scenes of public life, and so on. at the same time, the influence of cartoons on public opinion was considerable. So, some of the latest alterations in St. Paul’s Cathedral were eliminated after the release of cartoons on these innovations.

The founder of English caricature is considered to be the same William Hogarth. His satirical drawings and engravings were very popular in England and abroad and now adorn many famous collections.

Often cartoonists themselves engraved their drawings. Most often, etching and aquatint techniques were used. So, the famous cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1826) translated his drawings into etchings, and then painted the first copies.

T. Rowlandson. One with a bipod-three with a spoon.One thousand eight hundred eleven

T. Rowlandson. One with a bipod-three with a spoon.One thousand eight hundred eleven

THE POPULARITY OF ENGLISH ENGRAVING.
By the middle of the XVIII century, engraving is gaining unprecedented popularity in the British Isles. If earlier circulations were small and ordered by aristocrats, now the engravers themselves become publishers and sellers of their works. Some have even stopped practicing their art and are completely given up to the new occupation.

The fate of the famous publisher and seller of prints, John Boydell (1719-1804), is indicative. He started as an artist-engraver, but later completely devoted himself to publishing. He signed contracts with more than 250 engravers who worked for his publishing house. According to Joshua Reynolds, Boydell did more for art than the entire Royal Academy of arts.

The publisher was well known and respected, and even served twice as Lord mayor of London. He organized exhibitions of paintings, published books, and popularized the history of England.

It is impossible not to appreciate Boydell’s contribution to the development of the historical genre in English art. He commissioned paintings for historical subjects, not only from British, but also from Italian and French artists, then commissioned engravers to make prints from them, which he released for sale.

The engraving was widely used in book publishing. At this time, it was fashionable to print books without bindings, so that the buyer could pick up prints to the text himself. In books of that era, the popularity of engraving is clearly visible – the text is literally drowning in drawings.

D. Smith. Portrait of the young Peter I

D. Smith. Portrait of the young Peter I

English masters were held in high esteem in other countries as well. For example, John Smith, commissioned by the Russian court, engraved a portrait of the young Peter the Great from neller’s original. James Walker lived in St. Petersburg for 16 years and engraved portraits of all the important nobles of the court of Catherine II. There are known engraved images of Russian generals from portraits of John DOE. In addition to portraits, there are still prints depicting significant events of that time-the battle of the Russian-Turkish wars, the execution of Stepan Razin, and others.

DEVELOPMENT OF ENGLISH ENGRAVING AT THE BEGINNING OF THE XIX CENTURY.
C. and R. Rosenberg. Hyde Park corner.One thousand eight hundred twenty eight

C. and R. Rosenberg. Hyde Park corner.One thousand eight hundred twenty eight

For the XIX century, a new approach to engraving is characteristic. If in the previous century engravings were mostly reproductions of paintings by famous artists, now the engraving is gaining independent artistic significance and increasingly refers to the original subjects.

E. Duncan. Would-be rider. One thousand eight hundred thirty three

E. Duncan. Would-be rider. One thousand eight hundred thirty three

Nevertheless, the reproduction of the subjects of classical painting is preserved. Often, artists themselves are engaged in engraving their works. For example, the brilliant landscape painter Joseph William Turner (1775-1851) devoted much time to engraving. He engraved his paintings and produced them as individual prints, book illustrations, and even entire albums. Engravings quickly brought him a considerable fortune, which allowed Turner to travel a lot. He visited France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium, which gave the artist an irreplaceable experience and impression for a landscape painter.

At the beginning of the century, etching techniques were widely used. Hogarth still worked as an etcher, but now more and more master painters create original engraved works, since this method is quite simple and accessible. Of the most famous masters who paid tribute to etching, we can name the same Turner, Richard Bonington (1802-1828), Thomas Stothard (1755-1834), David Wilkie (1785-1841).

R. Bonington. Bologna. One thousand eight hundred twenty eight

R. Bonington. Bologna. One thousand eight hundred twenty eight

Another popular technique was lithography, invented in 1797 in Germany. A number of the works mentioned by Bonington and Stothard are created in the technique of lithography. By the middle of the century, lithography was almost abandoned, and it was revived again at the end of the century, when artists were actively looking for new means of expression. The most prominent lithographer of the end of the century was Charles Shannon.

VICTORIAN ERA.
The real heyday of English etching was in the Victorian era. Etching is the epitome of the Victorian style in engraving. The Creator of the school of English etching is considered to be Francis Seymour Hayden (1818-1910). The focus of Hayden has been paid to the landscapes, skillfully using lighting effects. Especially subtly, the master managed to convey the state of the atmosphere – a clear sky, storm clouds, sun rays piercing the fog, his works make an indelible impression. Hayden’s etchings, with their powerful contrasts of black and white and a rich range of intermediate hues, are very picturesque and expressive.

F. S. Hayden. View of Chelsea from the window of the Whistler house. One thousand eight hundred sixty three

F. S. Hayden. View of Chelsea from the window of the Whistler house. One thousand eight hundred sixty three

An outstanding master of etching of the Victorian period were Alfred East (1849-1913). One of the greatest landscape painters of his era, he sought to achieve purely pictorial effects in engraving, for which he varied the techniques of etching in every possible way. So, he often used elements of the aquatint technique, which gave his etchings an unusual softness. The details of his landscapes are highly generalized and blurred, and a number of works trace the influence of Japanese engraving.

A. East. On the banks of the Seine.One thousand nine hundred thirteen

A. East. On the banks of the Seine.One thousand nine hundred thirteen

Another artist – engraver of this style is William Strang (1859-1921). He was a brilliant portraitist, Illustrator, and worked a lot with other techniques. For example, his “Female head” is made in the mezzo-Tinto technique.

Strang. Female head. Mezzotint.One thousand eight hundred eighty four

Strang. Female head. Mezzotint.One thousand eight hundred eighty four

By the end of the Victorian period, the woodcut technique was gaining popularity. Among the engravers who worked in this technique, William Nicholson (1872-1949) stands out. He owns a number of prints depicting ordinary Londoners, athletes, etc. Known for his series of portraits of celebrities of the time-Queen Victoria. Sarah Bernhardt, Mark TWAIN, and others. Portraits were produced in small editions using color woodcuts and were reproduced using lithographic methods. Nicholson’s style is characterized by extreme laconism of visual means, a clear outline of silhouettes, and a stingy use of color.

W. Nicholson. Queen Victoria.One thousand eight hundred ninety nine

W. Nicholson. Queen Victoria.One thousand eight hundred ninety nine

A worthy completion of the Victorian era in the art of engraving and the transition to the art of modern times was the work of the painter and engraver Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956). Brangwyn used the etching technique, but his work is strikingly different from the works of other Victorian masters, which were finely and exquisitely worked small sheets.

F. Brangwyn. Landscape in Hammersmith. One thousand nine hundred three

F. Brangwyn. Landscape in Hammersmith. One thousand nine hundred three

Brangwyn’s etchings are huge sheets designed to be placed on walls and appeal to the mass audience. His works are executed with wide sweeping strokes, filled with bright contrasts of dark and light and are distinguished by genuine monumentality. The main theme of the artist’s works is the life of a big city. Brangwyn’s etching technique and creative style convey the heartbeat of the country’s industrial heart. These are completely new motifs for English art. Thus, brangwyn’s work became a transitional stage from classical English engraving to the highly social, sometimes rebellious engraving of the modern era.

To sum up, we note that the old English engraving has passed an interesting way of development. Being a long time on the margins of English art, at the beginning of the XVIII century, it developed explosively into one of the most striking phenomena of British artistic life. English masters of engraving enjoyed unquestionable authority in Europe, their works were exported to many countries of the continent, they learned from them, they were imitated. The English school of engraving flourished for two centuries and produced many outstanding masters of this art, who left a huge and valuable creative legacy.

To this day, the old English engraving is a standard of high skill and undeniable artistic taste. Works of English engravers adorn the walls of many art galleries, ancient castles, and modern mansions, being a necessary and expressive element of the English style in the interior. At the same time, the cost of prints is quite democratic, in contrast to the sometimes exorbitant cost of paintings. This combination of high artistic merit and affordable price makes an antique English engraving a great gift.

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