The English Print, 1688–1802

Timothy Clayton

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Out of Print

Before the invention of photography, prints were the principal means for reproducing and disseminating visual information. The engraver did for the image what the printer did for the written word, and painters were compared and judged on the evidence of prints of their work. In this authoritative and innovative book, Timothy Clayton describes the growth of the print trade in England during the eighteenth century, a period during which Britain emerged from artistic obscurity to dominate the international print market.

This highly readable account offers a fascinating tour of the principal outlets for prints in London, the provinces, and the British colonies over a period of more than one hundred years. Clayton considers the variety of published material history prints, topography, portraiture, satire, propaganda—the channels of distribution, and the various audiences to which prints were addressed. He examines the effect of the sudden and dramatic influx of foreign prints in the second decade of the eighteenth century and traces the way in which English engravers and printsellers attempted to establish a national industry. Prints were used to promote English entertainments, luxury industries, landscapes, gardens, and paintings and to demonstrate the increasing wealth and sophistication of the English nation. Their influence over the commercialization of leisure and the development of luxury manufacturing was considerable. By the 1760s, British engravers and painters were winning recognition and establishing a new reputation on the Continent through the dissemination of their work. During the following decade, the enthusiasm for English prints developed into full-blown anglomania, and engraved scenes from English literature and national history were displayed on walls throughout Europe.

Timothy Clayton is currently cataloguing the Clare Collection of prints at Worcester College, Oxford.

"Will delight the print aficionado."—Raymond J. Steiner, Art Times

"In this authoritative and innovative book, Timothy Clayton describes the growth of the print trade in England during the eighteenth century, a period during which Britain emerged from artistic obscurity to dominate the international print market. This highly readable account offers a fascinating tour of the principal outlets for prints in London, the provinces and the British colonies over a period of more than one hundred years."—Antiques Journal

"For anyone with an antiquarian turn, one of the irresistible books of the year . . . is The English Print based on a survey of the holdings of Worcester College, Oxford: a reference guide for collectors that is as handsome as the publisher knows how to make it."—The London Times

"[A] ground-breaking and scholarly new book. . . . Mr. Clayton's erudition . . . brings into a social and artistic context the roots of a blossoming appreciation for English culture through prints which has never withered."—Joan Porter, Antiques Trade Gazette

"This magnificent volume . . . is a chronological description of the development of the English print market; it brings together a mass of information, much of it new, about engravers and publishers, is fully referenced and has a bibliography. The book will be indispensable for anyone with an interest in the subject."—David Alexander, Country Life

"The whole structure of what we collect and why, is here set out in a beautifully-researched text, which combines immaculate scholarship with easy readability."—Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post

"This is a comprehensive and beautifully written history of the print in England. . . . This book is a fascinating study."—Sally Hoban, Antiques Bulletin

"Clayton's book offers us, for the first time, an encyclopedic and accessible introduction to the British print trade of the eighteenth century, and proves once and for all that London's graphic culture was a thriving and complex entity throughout the period. . . . The book is a work of great interest and learning that deserves serious consideration in its own right, rather than just being seen as a helpful stepping stone for future generations of scholars. . . . Clayton provides a clearly written and wide-ranging narrative that is available to be read by both the newcomer to print studies and by the seasoned student of eighteenth-century graphic art."—Mark Hallett, Art History

"Clayton has provided us with a rich, suggestive, and finely researched introduction to over a century of prints in 'their proper historical context.'"—Bruce Whiteman, Eighteenth Century Studies

"Timothy Clayton’s admirable and long-awaited book is a monumental achievement, one that will be mined for information for decades to come."—Richard Godfrey, Print Quarterly

ISBN: 9780300066500
Publication Date: December 22, 1997
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art
352 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
270 b/w + 30 color illus.

Sales Restrictions: World excluding British Commonwealth