New Publication: A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers, 1714–1820

  • 23 November 2021

A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers, 1714–1820 by David Alexander, a new Paul Mellon Centre title, is now published and available to purchase from Yale University Press.

This biographical dictionary of engravers working on copper encompasses both those who produced fine art prints, and also those who engraved book illustrations for medical, technical and literary works, all of which played a more important part than is usually realised in spreading information in the age of Enlightenment. Some 3,000 biographical entries draw on much unpublished information, researched over four decades, notably records of apprenticeship, genealogy, insurance and bankruptcy as well as newspaper advertisements and contemporary accounts.

This is the first reference work to cover all engravers working on copper in Britain and Ireland between 1714 and 1820. Many biographical entries describe celebrated engravers producing ‘fine art’ prints of paintings, which spread knowledge about living and dead artists. However, this book also builds up a more complex picture of the occupation of printmaking and includes engravers, many previously unresearched, who engraved ephemeral material, such as trade cards, bank notes, and satirical prints as well as the images that spread knowledge across all fields, literary, geographical, historical, topographical, medical and technical.