Monday, 28 March 2011


Flock is at Northern Print, Newcastle from 17 March until 4 June 2011.

"Local engraver and naturalist, Thomas Bewick (1753 – 1828) published his first volume of the History of British Birds in 1797. His reputation travelled far and wide and, a year before his death, the American naturalist John James Audubon came to visit Bewick. Bewick helped Audubon who went on to publish his acclaimed ‘Birds of America’ which includes a now rare bird the ‘Bewick Wren’ named after his friend and supporter.
Specimen Colony by Alec Finlay hints at this connection with his flat-pack bird box prints taking their inspiration from international postage stamps, many which reproduce Audubon’s famous illustrations.
This exhibition takes a contemporary view and includes works by Craigie Aitchison, Elizabeth Blackadder. Stephen Chambers, Alec Finlay, Angela Harding, Anita Klein, Sara Ogilvie, Joe Tilson & Fiona Watson and demonstrates a variety of printmaking techniques including screenprinting, etching & relief printing."

See Northern Print website for more details. 

Illustrated: Medlar Medler, screenprint by Stephen Chambers.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Bewick at IMMA.

Books, prints and a block by Thomas Bewick are on show in Dublin at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) from 23rd March until 12th June 2011.

They form part of the 'Old Master Prints: The Madden Arnholz Collection' exhibition.
The Museum at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham gives further details on their website here.

'The Madden Arnholz Collection was generously donated by Claire Madden to the Royal Hospital in 1989 in memory of her daughter and son-in-law.  It includes some 1,200 Old Master prints – the collection of engravings by Hogarth alone numbers over 500 works and is among the most comprehensive print collections in existence by the artist.  The Collection also includes works donated in October 1998 following Claire Madden’s death.  These include a large collection of books containing prints by the English printmaker Thomas Bewick and his family, as well as unusual versions of the prints on silk and one of Bewick’s printing blocks, of which will also be included in the exhibition.
The original Madden Arnholz Collection was first shown at the RHK in 1987 before it was donated and shown again at IMMA featuring the Hogarth prints in 2007.  This exhibition consists of approximately 35 books from the Thomas Bewick collection and 80 Old Master prints. '

You can read an account of the collector's background here.

 The exhibition is curated by Janet and John Banville.

Illustration: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Great Jewish Bride, 1635. Etching, 21.3 x 6.2 cm. Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art. Donation, Madden / Arnholz Collection, 1989.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Ill Met by Moonlight

The new edition of the Cherryburn Times (Volume 5, number 8) presents a rare scoop: the discovery and identification of a previously unknown watercolour by John Bewick.

"The three main figures are unambiguously villainous. The one on the left is seated on the ground, loading his pistol, ramming a wad down the barrel; on his right on the ground is a gunpowder pouch and on the ground by his knees is a cudgel. His top hat is at a rakish angle on top of unkempt hair. The man standing next to him on his left is holding his right hand to his ear with his left hand on the shoulder of the first figure in a warning gesture, as if he has heard the coach approaching. His head is turned to his left, listening, but his eyes are looking meaningfully down right. Under his left arm is a cudgel and in his left coat pocket the handles of two pistols are seen; his hat is lying on the ground in front of him. The third figure is a one-eyed man with a broad-brimmed hat stooped, perhaps on his knees, rummaging through a long bag, his head turned to his right. The men are footpads rather than highwaymen (who would normally be mounted). The trees in the centre and right are depicted with thick, bunched foliage somewhat like broccoli. The whole scene is suffused with threat and criminal intent – the expressions on the faces of the three main figures are nasty and brutish."

Playfully named "Ill-met by Moonlight" by the editor of the Cherryburn Times, the watercolour measures 158mm x190mm and is owned by a private collector.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Visions of the Jinn: Illustrators of the Arabian Nights

Robert Irwin has written a history of the various Western editions of The Arabian Nights from the eighteenth to the twentieth century.

Edward Lane's 'The Thousand and One Nights' of 1839-41 featured illustrations by William Harvey. Harvey (1796-1866) was one of Bewick's favourite apprentices and had worked on blocks for Aesops Fable (1818).

Irwin writes that Lane:

"thought that the stories of the Nights could serve as an introduction to everyday life in the Middle East. (Never mind about the flying horse, the jinn, the Roc, the magic lamp and the Old Man of the Sea.) His copious endnotes furthered his didactic aim and so did the illustrations. William Harvey, a pupil of Thomas Bewick and one of Britain's leading engravers, did the boxwood engravings, but Lane stood at his shoulder, checking the look of things and providing previously published engravings of Egyptian and Moorish architecture for him to copy. In general, the purpose of the pictures was not to stimulate the imagination or supplement the storyline, but to introduce the British reader to the authentic look of the Arab world. Just occasionally Harvey was licensed to use his imagination, as with his marvellous depiction of the giant jinni in "The Story of the City of Brass", or the battle of magical transformations in "The Story of the Second Dervish"."

Read Irwin's account of his research here.

His book Irwin, R., 2011. Visions of the Jinn: Illustrators of the Arabian Nights, The Arcadian Library can be found here.

Illustration: Lane in Turkish Costume, found here.