In this perceptive biography, Uglow (A Little History of British Gardening), an editor at the British publisher Chatto & Windus, chronicles the life of the wood engraver acclaimed for exquisite little vignettes of the Northumbrian countryside and its people. Thomas Bewick (1753– 1828) remained most of his life in his beloved Northumberland, where he was much in demand for bookplates, trade cards, playbills, business cards, leaflets and broadsides decorated with charming images of farmers, fishermen, peddlers, barnyards, moors, trees and streams. A naturalist as well as an artist, he rose to national fame with illustrations for three books, A General History of Quadrupeds, A History of British Birds and an edition of Aesop's Fables. Despite his celebrity, Bewick was "a plain, no-nonsense man" who cherished his family, loved fishing and tramping about the countryside and occasionally dabbled in politics. Uglow fleshes out what might have been a prosaic biography with a wealth of fascinating information about the world in which Bewick lived and worked—including descriptions of Northumberland and its people, and accounts of contemporaneous politics and religious thought. Her charming book, copiously illustrated with Bewick's wood engravings, includes extensive notes and a list of Bewick's workshop apprentices. 2 maps. (June)
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In 1767, when fourteen-year-old Thomas Bewick became an engravers apprentice in Newcastle, woodcutting was commonly deemed a crude art that could never rival pricey copperplate in detail. But Bewick perfected the craft with realistic yet whimsical engravings that conveyed the vanishing rural world of his youth with a "miniature intensity." Uglow traces his rise: he became the head of a workshop (she is very knowledgeable about the material history of engraving and printing), and achieved sudden fame with the publication of "A General History of Quadrupeds," which was followed by two volumes on British birds. The appeal of these masterworks, Uglow shows, lay as much in their characterful portraits of imposing Newfoundlands, devilish cormorants, and shy wood ducks as in the intimate and affordable medium in which they were presented. She includes a generous selection of Bewicks wood engravings, including many of his tiny "tailpieces," in their original sizes and with their original purpose, to fill space beneath text.
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Uglow did a great service to Bewick, those who like his work, and those being introduced to him with this well written warm biography. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Thucydides Jr,
This book is lavishly decorated by Bewick's works, with such a quality that it can serve as a little Bewick anthology. Read morePublished on April 5, 2008 by KC Tang