Bewick, Thomas

Bewick, Thomas
SUBJECT AREA: Paper and printing
b. August 1753 Cherryburn House, Ovingham, Northumberland, England
d. 8 November 1828 Gateshead, England
English perfecter of wood-engraving.
The son of a farmer, Bewick was educated locally, but his progress was unremarkable save for demonstrating an intense love of nature and of drawing. In 1767 he was apprenticed to Ralph Beilby, an engraver in Newcastle. Wood-engraving at that time was at a low ebb, restricted largely to crude decorative devices, and Hogarth, commenting on a recent book on the art, doubted whether it would ever recover. Beilby's business was of a miscellaneous character, but Bewick's interest in wood-engraving was noticed and encouraged: Beilby submitted several of his engravings to the Royal Society of Arts, which awarded a premium of £80 for them. His apprenticeship ended in 1774 and he went to London, where he readily found employment with several printers. The call of the north was too strong, however, and two years later he returned to Newcastle, entering into partnership with Beilby. With the publication of Select Fables in 1784, Bewick really showed both his expertise in the art of wood-engraving as a medium for book illustration and his talents as an artist. His engravings for the History of British Birds mark the high point of his achievement. The second volume of this work appeared in 1804, the year in which his partnership with Beilby was dissolved.
The essential feature of Bewick's wood-engravings involved cutting across the grain of the wood instead of along it, as in the old woodcut technique. The wood surface thus obtained offered a much more sensitive medium for engraving than before. It paved the way for the flowering of engraving on wood, and then on steel, for the production of illustrated material for an ever wider public through the Victorian age.
1864, Memoir of Thomas Bewick (autobiography, completed by his daughter). 1784, Select Fables.
Further Reading
M.Weekley, 1963, Thomas Bewick, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Bewick, Thomas — born Aug. 12, 1753, Cherryburn, Eng. died Nov. 8, 1828, Gateshead British wood engraver. At age 14 he was apprenticed to a metal engraver, with whom he later went into partnership in Newcastle; Bewick remained there most of his life. He… …   Universalium

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  • BEWICK, THOMAS —    a distinguished wood engraver, born in Northumberland, apprenticed to the trade in Newcastle; showed his art first in woodcuts for his History of Quadrupeds, the success of which led to the publication of his History of British Birds, in which …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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  • Thomas Bewick — Infobox Person | name = Thomas Bewick other names = birth date = August 1753 birth place = Mickley, Northumberland, England death date = death date|1828|11|8|mf=y death place = Gateshead, Durham, England occupation = Wood engraver Ornithologist… …   Wikipedia

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