A significant part of old English engravings is represented by caricatures. The genre of caricature itself existed before. The cartoons of Leonardo da Vinci are known, many canvases of Brueghel and Bosch are obvious features of satire. But it was in 18th-century England that the caricature gained unprecedented popularity and became a real phenomenon of public life due to the increased level of education of the population and the great interest shown by all layers of English society in the political life of the country.
The plots of caricatures were very different. Artists depicted important events, famous people of the era, scenes of public life, etc. At the same time, the influence of cartoons on public opinion was considerable. So, some of the latest alterations in St. Paul’s Cathedral were eliminated precisely after cartoons on these innovations.
The founder of the English caricature is still considered the same William Hogarth. His satirical drawings and engravings were very popular in England and abroad and now adorn many famous collections.
Often, cartoonists themselves engraved their drawings. The most commonly used etching techniques and aquatint. So, the famous cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1826) himself translated his drawings into etchings, after which he painted the first copies.
POPULARITY OF ENGLISH ENGRAVING.
By the middle of the 18th century, engraving was gaining unprecedented popularity in the British Isles. If earlier the print runs were small and ordered by aristocrats, now the engravers themselves are becoming publishers and sellers of their works. Some even stopped practicing their art and are completely surrendered to a new occupation.
The fate of the famous publisher and seller of prints John Boydell (1719-1804) is indicative. He began as an engraving artist, but subsequently he completely devoted himself to publishing. He signed contracts with over 250 engravers who worked for his publishing house. According to Joshua Reynolds, Boydell has done more for art than the entire Royal Academy of Arts.
The publisher enjoyed great fame and authority and even twice served as Lord Mayor of London. He organized painting exhibitions, published books, popularized the history of England.
One cannot but appreciate Boydell’s contribution to the development of the historical genre in English art. He ordered paintings for historical subjects, and not only from British, but from Italian and French artists, then he instructed engravers to make prints from them, which he put out for sale.
Engraving was widely used in book publishing. At this time, it was fashionable to print books without bindings, so that the buyer himself could pick up the engraving for the text. In the books of that era, the popularity of engraving is clearly visible – the text is literally drowning in drawings.
English masters in other countries were also held in high esteem. So, John Smith, by order of the Russian court, engraved, according to the original of Neller, the portrait of young Peter the Great. James Walker lived in St. Petersburg for 16 years and engraved portraits of all significant nobles of the court of Catherine II. Engraved images of Russian generals from portraits of John Doe are known. In addition to portraits, engravings with images of significant events of that time were preserved – the battles of the Russian-Turkish wars, the execution of Stepan Razin and others.
DEVELOPMENT OF ENGLISH ENGRAVING AT THE BEGINNING OF THE XIX CENTURY.
The nineteenth century is characterized by a new approach to engraving. If in the previous century engravings were mainly reproductions of paintings by famous painters, now engraving is gaining an independent artistic value and is increasingly turning to original plots.
Nevertheless, the reproduction of the plots of classical painting is preserved. Often the artists themselves engage in engraving of their work. So, the genius landscape painter Joseph William Turner (1775-1851) devoted much time to engraving. He engraved his paintings and released them in the form of individual prints, book illustrations, and even whole albums. Engravings quickly brought him a considerable fortune, which allowed Turner to travel a lot. He visited France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, which gave the artist an experience and experience indispensable for a landscape painter.
At the beginning of the century, etching techniques were widely used. Hogarth worked as an etching, and now more and more master painters create original engraved works, since this technique is quite simple and accessible. Of the most famous masters who paid tribute to etching, one can name the same Turner, Richard Bonington (1802-1828), Thomas Stotard (1755-1834), David Wilkie (1785-1841).
Another popular technique was lithography, invented in 1797 in Germany.