The Radical Print:
Art and Politics in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain

Esther Chadwick

Publicaton Date
June 2024
Standard Number
Yale University Press
304 pages

A groundbreaking account of printmaking in Britain that explores the medium’s intersection with radical politics
The Radical Print argues for printmaking in Britain as the most exciting, innovative, and critically engaged field of artistic production in the late eighteenth century. Moving the print from the margins to the centre of the study of art history, this new critical study demonstrates how print responded to the acceleration of historical events, the polarisation of public discourse, and the sense of a world turned upside down in ways that traditional artistic media could not.
Across five chapters, this book brings printmakers James Barry, John Hamilton Mortimer, James Gillray, Thomas Bewick and William Blake together as artists of the 'Paper Age' for the first time. From Barry’s experiments in aquatint at the time of the American Revolution to Blake’s visionary engravings of the post-Napoleonic period, Chadwick shows how the print medium provided artists with special purchase on the major political issues of their age.
The Radical Print assembles a rich array of material, from the period’s best-known prints to unpublished ephemera, revealing print’s dynamic role in one of the most turbulent periods of British history.

About the author

  • Esther Chadwick is Lecturer in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art.