Monday, 21 January 2013

The Snowman

‘The Snowman’
transfer drawing by Robert Johnson for the tail-piece by Bewick in British Birds vol I, 1797, p.78.

Robert Johnson (1771-1796)

He seems to have started in the Bewick workshop in 1784, though he was technically too young to be apprenticed. It seems he did not like wood–engraving, much preferring drawing and copper–engraving. His mother had been a servant at Cherryburn in her younger days. His health was problematic, which led to him being sent out to draw in the open air. Bewick prized his drawings and would give him a rough sketch to work up to a coloured drawing, which would then be cut by Bewick himself or by another apprentice. He completed his apprenticeship in August, 1794 and died just over a year later in Scotland. It is appropriate to show the drawings here rather than the wood–engravings cut from them. The originals are in the collections of the British Museum.

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