Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London. It has a unique position as an independent funded institution led by eminent artists and architects, its purpose is to promote the creation and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions and debate. The Royal Academy of Arts was founded through a personal act of King George III on 10 December 1768 with a mission to promote the arts of design in Britain through education and exhibition; the motive in founding the Academy was twofold: to raise the professional status of the artist by establishing a sound system of training and expert judgement in the arts, to arrange the exhibition of contemporary works of art attaining an appropriate standard of excellence. Supporters wanted to foster a national school of art and to encourage appreciation and interest among the public based on recognised canons of good taste. Fashionable taste in 18th-century Britain was based on continental and traditional art forms, providing contemporary British artists little opportunity to sell their works.
From 1746 the Foundling Hospital, through the efforts of William Hogarth, provided an early venue for contemporary artists in Britain. The success of this venture led to the formation of the Society of Artists of Great Britain and the Free Society of Artists. Both these groups were exhibiting societies; the combined vision of education and exhibition to establish a national school of art set the Royal Academy apart from the other exhibiting societies. It provided the foundation upon which the Royal Academy came to dominate the art scene of the 18th and 19th centuries, supplanting the earlier art societies; the origin of the Royal Academy of Arts lies in an attempt in 1755 by members of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Commerce, principally the sculptor Henry Cheere, to found an autonomous academy of arts. Prior to this a number of artists were members of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Commerce, including Cheere and William Hogarth, or were involved in small-scale private art academies, such as the St Martin's Lane Academy.
Although Cheere's attempt failed, the eventual charter, called an'Instrument', used to establish the Royal Academy of Arts over a decade was identical to that drawn up by Cheere in 1755. It was Sir William Chambers, a prominent architect and head of the British government's architects' department, the Office of Works, who used his connections with George III to gain royal patronage and financial support for the Academy in 1768; the painter Joshua Reynolds was made its first president, Francis Milner Newton was elected the first secretary, a post he held for two decades until his resignation in 1788. The instrument of foundation, signed by George III on 10 December 1768, named 34 founder members and allowed for a total membership of 40; the founder members were Reynolds, John Baker, George Barret, Francesco Bartolozzi, Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Augustino Carlini, Charles Catton, Mason Chamberlin, William Chambers, Francis Cotes, George Dance, Nathaniel Dance, Thomas Gainsborough, John Gwynn, Francis Hayman, Nathaniel Hone the Elder, Angelica Kauffman, Jeremiah Meyer, George Michael Moser, Mary Moser, Francis Milner Newton, Edward Penny, John Inigo Richards, Paul Sandby, Thomas Sandby, Dominic Serres, Peter Toms, William Tyler, Samuel Wale, Benjamin West, Richard Wilson, Joseph Wilton, Richard Yeo, Francesco Zuccarelli.
William Hoare and Johann Zoffany were added to this list by the King and are known as nominated members. Among the founder members were two women, a father and daughter, two sets of brothers; the Royal Academy was housed in cramped quarters in Pall Mall, although in 1771 it was given temporary accommodation for its library and schools in Old Somerset House a royal palace. In 1780 it was installed in purpose-built apartments in the first completed wing of New Somerset House, designed by Chambers, located in the Strand and designed by Chambers, the Academy's first treasurer; the Academy moved in 1837 to Trafalgar Square, where it occupied the east wing of the completed National Gallery. These premises soon proved too small to house both institutions. In 1868, 100 years after the Academy's foundation, it moved to Burlington House, where it remains. Burlington House is owned by the British Government, used rent-free by the Royal Academy; the first Royal Academy exhibition of contemporary art, open to all artists, opened on 25 April 1769 and ran until 27 May 1769.
136 works of art were shown and this exhibition, now known as the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, has been staged annually without interruption to the present day. In 1870 the Academy expanded its exhibition programme to include a temporary annual loan exhibition of Old Masters, following the cessation of a similar annual exhibition at the British Institution; the range and frequency of these loan exhibitions have grown enormously since that time, making the Royal Academy a leading art exhibition institution of international importance. Britain's first public lectures on art were staged by the Royal Academy, as another way to fulfil its mission. Led by Reynolds, the first president, a program included lectures by Dr. William Hunter, John Flaxman, James Barry, Sir John Soane, J. M. W. Turner; the last three were all graduates of the RA School, which for a long time was the only established art school in the Royal Academy. In 2018, the Academy's 250th anniversary, the results of a major refurbishment were unveiled.
The project began on 1 January 2008 with the appointment of David Chipperfield Architects. Heritage Lottery
Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments with a medium of drying oil as the binder. Used drying oils include linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, safflower oil; the choice of oil imparts a range of properties to the oil paint, such as the amount of yellowing or drying time. Certain differences, depending on the oil, are visible in the sheen of the paints. An artist might use several different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired; the paints themselves develop a particular consistency depending on the medium. The oil may be boiled with a resin, such as pine resin or frankincense, to create a varnish prized for its body and gloss. Although oil paint was first used for Buddhist paintings by painters in western Afghanistan sometime between the fifth and tenth centuries, it did not gain popularity until the 15th century, its practice may have migrated westward during the Middle Ages. Oil paint became the principal medium used for creating artworks as its advantages became known.
The transition began with Early Netherlandish painting in Northern Europe, by the height of the Renaissance oil painting techniques had completely replaced the use of tempera paints in the majority of Europe. In recent years, water miscible. Water-soluble paints are either engineered or an emulsifier has been added that allows them to be thinned with water rather than paint thinner, allows, when sufficiently diluted fast drying times when compared with traditional oils. Traditional oil painting techniques begin with the artist sketching the subject onto the canvas with charcoal or thinned paint. Oil paint is mixed with linseed oil, artist grade mineral spirits, or other solvents to make the paint thinner, faster or slower-drying. A basic rule of oil paint application is'fat over lean', meaning that each additional layer of paint should contain more oil than the layer below to allow proper drying. If each additional layer contains less oil, the final painting will peel; this rule does not ensure permanence.
There are many other media that can be used with the oil, including cold wax and varnishes. These additional media can aid the painter in adjusting the translucency of the paint, the sheen of the paint, the density or'body' of the paint, the ability of the paint to hold or conceal the brushstroke; these aspects of the paint are related to the expressive capacity of oil paint. Traditionally, paint was transferred to the painting surface using paintbrushes, but there are other methods, including using palette knives and rags. Oil paint remains wet longer than many other types of artists' materials, enabling the artist to change the color, texture or form of the figure. At times, the painter might remove an entire layer of paint and begin anew; this can be done with a rag and some turpentine for a time while the paint is wet, but after a while the hardened layer must be scraped. Oil paint dries by oxidation, not evaporation, is dry to the touch within a span of two weeks, it is dry enough to be varnished in six months to a year.
Although the history of tempera and related media in Europe indicates that oil painting was discovered there independently, there is evidence that oil painting was used earlier in Afghanistan. Outdoor surfaces and surfaces like shields—both those used in tournaments and those hung as decorations—were more durable when painted in oil-based media than when painted in the traditional tempera paints. Most Renaissance sources, in particular Vasari, credited northern European painters of the 15th century, Jan van Eyck in particular, with the "invention" of painting with oil media on wood panel supports. However, Theophilus gives instructions for oil-based painting in his treatise, On Various Arts, written in 1125. At this period, it was used for painting sculptures and wood fittings especially for outdoor use. However, early Netherlandish painting with artists like Van Eyck and Robert Campin in the 15th century were the first to make oil the usual painting medium, explore the use of layers and glazes, followed by the rest of Northern Europe, only Italy.
Early works were still panel paintings on wood, but around the end of the 15th century canvas became more popular as the support, as it was cheaper, easier to transport, allowed larger works, did not require complicated preliminary layers of gesso. Venice, where sail-canvas was available, was a leader in the move to canvas. Small cabinet paintings were made on metal copper plates; these supports were more expensive but firm, allowing intricately fine detail. Printing plates from printmaking were reused for this purpose; the popularity of oil spread through Italy from the North, starting in Venice in the late 15th century. By 1540, the previous method for painting on panel had become all but extinct, although Italians continued to use chalk-based fresco for wall paintings, less successful and durable in damper northern climates; the linseed oil itself comes from a common fiber crop. Linen, a "support" for oil painting comes from the flax plant. Safflower oil or the walnut or poppyseed oil are sometimes used in formulating lighter colors li
Chiaroscuro, in art, is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures. Similar effects in cinema and photography are called chiaroscuro. Further specialized uses of the term include chiaroscuro woodcut for coloured woodcuts printed with different blocks, each using a different coloured ink; the underlying principle is that solidity of form is best achieved by the light falling against it. Artists known for developing the technique include Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, it is a mainstay of black and white and low-key photography. It is one of the modes of painting colour in Renaissance art. Artists well-known for their use of chiaroscuro include Rembrandt, Caravaggio and Goya; the term chiaroscuro originated during the Renaissance as drawing on coloured paper, where the artist worked from the paper's base tone toward light using white gouache, toward dark using ink, bodycolour or watercolour.
These in turn drew on traditions in illuminated manuscripts going back to late Roman Imperial manuscripts on purple-dyed vellum. Such works are called "chiaroscuro drawings", but may only be described in modern museum terminology by such formulae as "pen on prepared paper, heightened with white bodycolour". Chiaroscuro woodcuts began as imitations of this technique; when discussing Italian art, the term sometimes is used to mean painted images in monochrome or two colours, more known in English by the French equivalent, grisaille. The term broadened in meaning early on to cover all strong contrasts in illumination between light and dark areas in art, now the primary meaning; the more technical use of the term chiaroscuro is the effect of light modelling in painting, drawing, or printmaking, where three-dimensional volume is suggested by the value gradation of colour and the analytical division of light and shadow shapes—often called "shading". The invention of these effects in the West, "skiagraphia" or "shadow-painting" to the Ancient Greeks, traditionally was ascribed to the famous Athenian painter of the fifth century BC, Apollodoros.
Although few Ancient Greek paintings survive, their understanding of the effect of light modelling still may be seen in the late-fourth-century BC mosaics of Pella, Macedonia, in particular the Stag Hunt Mosaic, in the House of the Abduction of Helen, inscribed gnosis epoesen, or'knowledge did it'. The technique survived in rather crude standardized form in Byzantine art and was refined again in the Middle Ages to become standard by the early fifteenth-century in painting and manuscript illumination in Italy and Flanders, spread to all Western art. According to the theory of the art historian Marcia B. Hall, which has gained considerable acceptance, chiaroscuro is one of four modes of painting colours available to Italian High Renaissance painters, along with cangiante and unione; the Raphael painting illustrated, with light coming from the left, demonstrates both delicate modelling chiaroscuro to give volume to the body of the model, strong chiaroscuro in the more common sense, in the contrast between the well-lit model and the dark background of foliage.
To further complicate matters, the compositional chiaroscuro of the contrast between model and background would not be described using this term, as the two elements are completely separated. The term is used to describe compositions where at least some principal elements of the main composition show the transition between light and dark, as in the Baglioni and Geertgen tot Sint Jans paintings illustrated above and below. Chiaroscuro modelling is now taken for granted, but it has had some opponents, her Majesty... chose her place to sit for that purpose in the open alley of a goodly garden, where no tree was near, nor any shadow at all..."In drawings and prints, modelling chiaroscuro is achieved by the use of hatching, or shading by parallel lines. Washes, stipple or dotting effects, "surface tone" in printmaking are other techniques. Chiaroscuro woodcuts are old master prints in woodcut using two or more blocks printed in different colours, they were first produced to achieve similar effects to chiaroscuro drawings.
After some early experiments in book-printing, the true chiaroscuro woodcut conceived for two blocks was first invented by Lucas Cranach the Elder in Germany in 1508 or 1509, though he backdated some of his first prints and added tone blocks to some prints first produced for monochrome printing, swiftly followed by Hans Burgkmair the Elder. Despite Vasari's claim for Italian precedence in Ugo da Carpi, it is clear that his, the first Italian examples, date to around 1516 But other sources suggest, the first chiaroscuro woodcut to be the Triumph of Julius Caesar, created by Andrea Mantegna, an Italian painter, between 1470 and 1500. Another view states that: "Lucas Cranach backdated two of his works in an attempt to grab the glory" and that the technique was invented "in all probability" by Burgkmair "who was commissioned by the emperor Maximilian to find a c
Joseph Johnson (publisher)
Joseph Johnson was an influential 18th-century London bookseller and publisher. His publications covered a wide variety of genres and a broad spectrum of opinions on important issues. Johnson is best known for publishing the works of radical thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Thomas Malthus, Joel Barlow, feminist economist Priscilla Wakefield, as well as religious dissenters such as Joseph Priestley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Gilbert Wakefield, George Walker. In the 1760s, Johnson established his publishing business, which focused on religious works, he became friends with Priestley and the artist Henry Fuseli – two relationships that lasted his entire life and brought him much business. In the 1770s and 1780s, Johnson expanded his business, publishing important works in medicine and children's literature as well as the popular poetry of William Cowper and Erasmus Darwin. Throughout his career, Johnson helped shape the thought of his era not only through his publications, but through his support of innovative writers and thinkers.
He fostered the open discussion of new ideas at his famous weekly dinners, the regular attendees of which became known as the "Johnson Circle". In the 1790s, Johnson aligned himself with the supporters of the French Revolution, published an increasing number of political pamphlets in addition to a prominent journal, the Analytical Review, which offered British reformers a voice in the public sphere. In 1799, he was indicted on charges of seditious libel for publishing a pamphlet by the Unitarian minister Gilbert Wakefield. After spending six months in prison, albeit under comfortable conditions, Johnson published fewer political works. In the last decade of his career, Johnson did not seek out many new writers. Johnson's friend John Aikin eulogized him as "the father of the booktrade", he has been called "the most important publisher in England from 1770 until 1810" for his appreciation and promotion of young writers, his emphasis on publishing inexpensive works directed at a growing middle-class readership, his cultivation and advocacy of women writers at a time when they were viewed with skepticism.
Johnson was the second son of Rebecca Turner Johnson and John Johnson, a Baptist yeoman who lived in Everton, Liverpool. Religious Dissent marked Johnson from the beginning of his life, as two of his mother's relatives were prominent Baptist ministers and his father was a deacon. Liverpool, at the time of Johnson's youth, was fast becoming a bustling urban centre and was one of the most important commercial ports in England; these two characteristics of his home – Dissent and commercialism – remained central elements in Johnson's character throughout his life. At the age of fifteen, Johnson was apprenticed to George Keith, a London bookseller who specialized in publishing religious tracts such as Reflections on the Modern but Unchristian Practice of Innoculation; as Gerald Tyson, Johnson's major modern biographer, explains, it was unusual for the younger son of a family living in relative obscurity to move to London and to become a bookseller. Scholars have speculated that Johnson was indentured to Keith because the bookseller was associated with Liverpool Baptists.
Keith and Johnson published several works together in their careers, which suggests that the two remained on friendly terms after Johnson started his own business. Upon completing his apprenticeship in 1761, Johnson opened his own business, but he struggled to establish himself, moving his shop several times within one year. Two of his early publications were a kind of day planner: The Complete Pocket-Book; such pocketbooks were popular and Johnson outsold his rivals by publishing his both earlier and cheaper. Johnson continued to sell these profitable books until the end of the 1790s, but as a religious Dissenter, he was interested in publishing books that would improve society. Therefore, religious texts dominated his book list, although he published works relating to Liverpool and medicine. However, as a publisher Johnson attended to more than the selling and distributing of books, as scholar Leslie Chard explains: Besides the actual selling of books to the public, the bookseller saw to their publication, arrangements with printers, with advertisers, with other booksellers in the city, the provinces, foreign countries, in short to their distribution.
He sold, incongruously but patent medicine. But what most occupied his time was the welfare of his authors: at the most he fed and housed them, but at the least he served as banker, postal clerk and packager, literary agent and editor, social chairman, psychiatrist; as Johnson became successful and his reputation grew, other publishers began including him in congers – syndicates that spread the risk of publishing a costly or inflammatory book among several firms. In his late twenties, Johnson formed two friendships; the first was with the painter and writer Henry Fuseli, described as "quick witted and pugnacious". Fuseli's early 19th-century biographer writes that when Fuseli met Johnson in 1764, Johnson "had acquired the character which he retained during life, – that of a man of great integrity, encourager of literary men as far as his means extended, an excellent judge of their productions". Fuseli remained Johnson's closest friend; the second and more consequential friendship was with Joseph Priestley, the renowned natural philosopher and Unita
The Sleeping Ariadne, housed in the Vatican Museums in Vatican City, is a Roman Hadrianic copy of a Hellenistic sculpture of the Pergamene school of the 2nd century BCE, is one of the most renowned sculptures of Antiquity. The reclining figure in a chiton bound under her breasts half lies, half sits, her extended legs crossed at the calves, her head pillowed on her left arm, her right thrown over her head. Other Roman copies of this model exist: one, the "Wilton House Ariadne", is unrestored, while another, the "Medici Ariadne" found in Rome, has been "seriously reworked in modern times", according to Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway. Two surviving statuettes attest to a Roman trade in reductions of this familiar figure. A variant Sleeping Ariadne is in the Prado Madrid. A Roman variant found in the Villa Borghese gardens, Rome, is at the Louvre Museum. Purchased from the Roman Angelo Maffei in 1512 by Pope Julius II, it was installed in the Belvedere Courtyard, which links the Vatican Palace with the papal casina called the Belvedere.
Once she had been identified as Cleopatra because of the snake bracelet on the upper left arm, taken for the asp by which she died, supportive narrative could be brought to bear: Ulisse Aldrovandi thought he detected that "she appears to have collapsed and fainted", a sense of fitful uneasiness has been ascribed to her by the modern viewer Sheila McNally. The "Cleopatra" became the main model through which a conventional pose signifying sleep, with one elbow cocked above the head, was transmitted from Antiquity to High Renaissance and painters and sculptors. T. B. L. Webster noted the uneasy pose of the sleeper, between sleep and wakening, a Hellenistic innovation in the sleeping Ariadne motif long known from vase-painting, which now placed greater emphasis on the stress of Ariadne herself. Sheila McNally detected in the sculpture a new "sense of unease that informs the whole" and "an effort to throw off some inner discomfort — a sluggish effort, restrained by a slumber, more oppressive than relaxing.
Her drapery bunches about her legs, imprisoning her loins." Soon she may wake to threaten vengeance on Theseus, as in Catullus' description in "Peleus and Thetis". The Cleopatra, as it was known, was set upon a Roman sarcophagus and fitted as a fountain in a niche at one end of the uppermost terrace of the Cortile del Belvidere, embodying in its setting the description of a Sleeping Nymph found by the far-off Danube, with a suitably Antique-sounding four-line Latin epigram beginning HUIUS NYMPHA LOCI..., making the humanist rounds. The epigram, which passed until modern times for a Roman one, was composed by Giovanni Antonio Campani, a humanist at the court of Pius II who moved in the academic circle of Julius Pomponius Laetus, but the Sleeping Nymph motif and the accompanying inscription applied to it became part and parcel of humanistic and fashionable recreations of paradisal garden spots with classical affinities— loci amoeni— right through the 18th century, all the while assimilated to the "Cleopatra", Leonard Barkan observes, "by a contagion among quite separate narratives that happen to converge in the enigmatic space of the signum/statue".
The niche, if it was not a grotto from the first, was redecorated as a grotto in the 1530s, when Francisco de Holanda made a drawing of it. In the 1550s, under the general direction of Giorgio Vasari the sculpture was reinstalled indoors in an adjoining long gallery, for which, still as a fountain in a shallow grotto niche, it served as the visual focus at one end; when the Museo Pio-Clementino was established, it received its similar new setting, set on a sarcophagus that bears a frieze of the Titanomachy. Poems were dedicated to the sculpture during the 16th century, sometimes expressed as if in the statue's own voice, in the rhetorical device called prosopopoeia; the sculpture was one of a dozen selected by Primaticcio to be molded for plaster copies and cast in bronze for Francis I at the château de Fontainebleau. In the process, the pose was adjusted, the sleeping nymph's limbs were lengthened, to accord better with French Mannerist canons of female beauty. From the bronze at Fontainebleau numerous copies and reductions were made.
In Rome Nicolas Poussin made a small wax copy of the papal sculpture to keep by him, which has come to be preserved in the Louvre Museum. Copies in marble were commissioned by Louis XIV. Pierre Julien sculpted a marble copy during his sojourn at the French Academy in Rome, 1768 to 1773, shipped it to France to demonstrate the progress he was making, as was the expected gesture of the king's pensionnaires. In Henry Hoare's picturesque garden at Stourhead, a lakeside temple contained John Cheere's whited-lead copy of the Vatican Ariadne with the suitably Antique-sounding verses beginning HUIUS NYMPHA LOCI.... In America, not much Thomas Jefferson acquired a small marble copy of the Cleopatra, as he first knew it, for the sculpture gallery he planned at Monticello but, never realised, it was a gift from James Bowdoin, in 1805, remains in Jefferson's hallway. Napoleon's agents in Rome selected the Cleopatra to join the choicest antiquities to be taken to Paris, forming the short-lived Musée Napoléon.
Palazzo del Te
Palazzo del Te or Palazzo Te is a palace in the suburbs of Mantua, Italy. It is a fine example of the mannerist style of architecture, the acknowledged masterpiece of Giulio Romano. Although formed in Italian, the usual name in English of Palazzo del Te is not that now used by Italians; the official modern name, by far the most common name in Italian, is Palazzo Te. The English name arises because Vasari calls it the "Palazzo Del T", English-speaking writers art historians, still most call it "Palazzo Del Te". Palazzo del Te was constructed 1524–34 for Federico II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua as a palace of leisure; the site chosen was that of the family's stables at Isola Del Te, on the edge of the marshes just outside Mantua's city walls. The name comes from tejeto, the grove that once grew on what was an islet in the marshlands around the core of the city. Giulio Romano, a pupil of Raphael, was commissioned to design the building; the shell of the palazzo, erected within eighteen months, is a square house containing a cloistered courtyard.
A formal garden complemented the house, enclosed by colonnaded outbuildings ending in a semicircular colonnade known as the'Esedra'. Once the shell of the building was completed, for ten years a team of plasterers and fresco painters laboured, until a surface in any of the loggias or salons remained undecorated. Under Romano's direction, local decorative painters such as Benedetto Pagni and Rinaldo Mantovano worked extensively on the frescos. In July 1630, during the War of the Mantuan Succession and the palace were sacked over three days by an Imperial army of 36,000 Landsknecht mercenaries; the remaining populace fell victim to one of the worst plagues in history that the invaders had brought with them. The Palazzo was looted from top to bottom and remained an empty shell: nymphs, god and giants remain on the walls of the empty echoing rooms. Like the Villa Farnesina in Rome, the suburban location allowed for a mixing of both palace and villa architecture; the four exterior façades have flat pilasters against rusticated walls, the fenestration indicating that the piano nobile is the ground floor, with a secondary floor above.
The East façade differs from the other three by having Palladian motifs on its pilaster and an open loggia at its centre rather than an arch to the courtyard. The facades are not as symmetrical as they appear, the spans between the columns are irregular; the centre of the North and South facades are pierced by two-storey arches without portico or pediment a covered way leading to the interior courtyard. Few windows overlook the inner courtyard; the frescoes are the most remarkable feature of the Palazzo. The subjects range from Olympian banquets in the Sala di Psiche and stylised horses in the Sala dei Cavalli to the most unusual of all — giants and grotesques wreaking havoc and ruin around the walls of the Sala dei Giganti; these magnificent rooms, once furnished to complement the ducal court of the Gonzaga family, saw many of the most illustrious figures of their era entertained such as the Emperor Charles V, when visiting in 1530, elevated his host Federico II of Gonzaga from Marquess to Duke of Mantua.
One of the most evocative parts of the lost era of the palazzo is the Casino della Grotta, a small suite of intimate rooms arranged around a grotto and loggetta where courtiers once bathed in the small cascade that splashed over the pebbles and shells encrusted in the floor and walls. Part of the Palazzo today houses the Museo Civico del Palazzo Te, endowed by the publisher Arnoldo Mondadori, it contains a collection of Mesopotamian art. Official website Mantua tourist guide Palazzo Te at Google Arts & Culture Summerson, The Classical Language of Architecture, 1980 edition and Hudson World of Art series, ISBN 0500201773
John Boydell was an 18th-century British publisher noted for his reproductions of engravings. He helped alter the trade imbalance between Britain and France in engravings and initiated a British tradition in the art form. A former engraver himself, Boydell promoted the interests of artists as well as patrons and as a result his business prospered; the son of a land surveyor, Boydell apprenticed himself to William Henry Toms, an artist he admired, learned engraving. He established his own business in 1746 and published his first book of engravings around the same time. Boydell did not think much of his own artistic efforts and started buying the works of others, becoming a print dealer as well as an artist, he became a successful importer of French prints during the 1750s but was frustrated by their refusal to trade prints in kind. To spark reciprocal trade, he commissioned William Wollett's spectacular engraving of Richard Wilson's The Destruction of the Children of Niobe, which revolutionised the print trade.
Ten years largely as a result of Boydell's initiative, the trade imbalance had shifted, he was named a fellow of the Royal Society for his efforts. In the 1790s, Boydell began a large Shakespeare venture that included the establishment of a Shakespeare Gallery, the publication of an illustrated edition of Shakespeare's plays, the release of a folio of prints depicting scenes from Shakespeare's works; some of the most illustrious painters of the day contributed, such as Benjamin West and Henry Fuseli. Throughout his life, Boydell dedicated time to civic projects: he donated art to government institutions and ran for public office. In 1790 he became Lord Mayor of London; the French Revolutionary Wars led to a cessation in Continental trade at the end of the 1790s. Without this business, Boydell's firm declined and he was bankrupt at his death in 1804. Boydell was born, according to his monument in St Olave Old Jewry, London, at Dorrington, in the parish of Woore, Shropshire, to Josiah and Mary Boydell and was educated at least at Merchant Taylors' School.
His father was a land surveyor and young Boydell, the oldest of seven children, was expected to follow in his footsteps. In 1731, when Boydell was eleven, the family moved to Flintshire. In 1739 he became house accompanied him to London. A year like many other enterprising young men of the time, Boydell resolved to sail to the East Indies in hopes of making his fortune, but he abandoned the scheme in favour of returning to Flintshire and Elizabeth Lloyd, the woman he was courting. Whether or not he intended to pursue land surveying at this time is unclear. In either 1740 or 1741, Boydell saw a print of Hawarden Castle by William Henry Toms and was so delighted with it that he set out again for London to learn printmaking and Lloyd promised to wait for him. Boydell enrolled in St Martin's Lane Academy to learn drawing; each day he worked about fourteen hours for Toms and attended drawing classes at night. After six years, Boydell's diligence allowed him to buy out the last year of his apprenticeship, in 1746 he set up an independent shop on the Strand that specialised in topographical prints that cost six pence for a cheap print or one shilling for an expensive print.
Boydell's willingness to assume responsibility for his own business so early in his career indicates that he had ambition and an enterprising spirit. Independent shops were risky in the 1740s because no strict copyright laws, other than the Engraving Copyright Act of 1734, had yet been instituted; the pirating of published books and prints became a profession in its own right and decreased the profits of publishers such as Boydell. Around 1747, Boydell published his first major work, The Bridge Book, for which he drew and cut each print himself, it cost one shilling and contained six landscapes in each of which, not a bridge featured prominently. A year in 1748, Boydell financially secure, married Elizabeth Lloyd; the couple did not have any children and Elizabeth died in 1781. Boydell realised early in his career that his engravings had little artistic merit, saying that they were collected by others "more to show the improvement of art in this country, since the period of their publication, than from any idea of their own merits".
This may explain why in 1751, when he became a member of the Stationers' Company, he started buying other artists' plates and publishing them in addition to his own. Ordinarily an engraver, such as William Hogarth, had his own shop or took his finished engravings to a publisher. In adopting the dual role of artist and print dealer, Boydell altered the traditional organisation of print shops, he was not subject to the whims of public taste: if his engraves did not sell well, he could supplement his earnings by trading in the prints of other artists. He understood the concerns of both the engraver and the publisher. In fact, as a publisher, he did much to help raise the level of respect for engravers in addition to furnishing them with better paying commissions. In 1751, with his large volume of prints, Boydell moved to larger premises at 90 Cheapside. By 1755, he had published C. in England and Wales. This cheap but successful book gave him capital to invest, he became immersed in the commercial side of the print business and like most print dealers began importing prints to sell.
These included print reproductions of landscapes by artists such as Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa. The bulk of the imports came from the undis