Penn Library

The Illustrated Book, 1780-1830: selected from the collection of Harris N. Hollin


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In England the heyday of hand-painted color print books coincided with the development of the picturesque style in painting and illustration. Taking landscapes and buildings as its subject matter, the picturesque sought to depict the beauty of variety, according to its foremost proponent the Reverend William Gilpin. The search for the picturesque took many abroad, as it did with John Carr who travelled first to France and then across the Irish Sea for A Stranger in Ireland (1805). At the same time, interest in the picturesque manifested itself in areas of more acute local interest to English readers. Theodore H. Fielding and J. Walton provided Ackermann's audience with a magnificent illustrated tour of the English lakes, A Picturesque Tour of the English Lakes (1821). Buildings were common subject matter for the picturesque. Indeed, architecture in the late 18th and early 19th centuries enjoyed substantial public consideration. Draughtsmen and engravers were kept busy producing pictorial representations of abbeys, estate and the like to satisfy the public demand for "views." In this genre, too, Ackermann's press on the Strand was well represented. In The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's Westminister (1812), Ackermann employed a variety of artists used to bring out in the plates the luster of stained glass windows and the "dim religious light" of the chapels. W. H. Pyne concentrated on other national treasures of the English--the royal residences. In his History of the Royal Residences (1819), both exterior and interior scenes are featured (the former printed in two colorsblue for the sky and brown for the building and foreground--and the later in one, before being colored by hand) and the extraordinary richness of color lends a majestic effect to the illustrations.

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