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.
The English Print 1688-1802, London and New Haven, Yale UP, 1997
Revue de l'Art
English Historical Review
The Art Newspaper
Antiques Trade Gazette
David Alexander, Country Life
Richard Godfrey, Print Quarterly
Mark Hallett, Art History
The Daily Telegraph
11th January 2015