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About Thomas Bewick - British Natural History Artist

Updated on October 13, 2014
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Katherine has researched and written about many British, European and Japanese Artists - both past and present

An introduction to Thomas Bewick (1753 - 1828) a wood engraver

Thomas Bewick is a wood engraver whose artwork appeals to people who like wood engravings and people who like artwork derived from natural history. He lived and worked in the the late 18th / early 19th centuries

I want to find out more about Thomas Bewick and I've created this compendium to bookmark all relevant websites.

  • This site includes links to biographies and books about his life and work.
  • Plus online galleries of images and exhibitions which display his work.
  • All images used have been sourced from wikipedia.

Barn Owl Tyto alba.  Captioned "The Yellow Owl, Gillihowlet, Church, Barn, or Screech Owl. Strix flammea", Linn[aeus].—Chouette effraie, Temm[inck]." Source : History of British Birds (1847) by Thomas Bewick
Barn Owl Tyto alba. Captioned "The Yellow Owl, Gillihowlet, Church, Barn, or Screech Owl. Strix flammea", Linn[aeus].—Chouette effraie, Temm[inck]." Source : History of British Birds (1847) by Thomas Bewick | Source

"Oh now that the genius of Bewick were mine

And the skill which He learn'd on the Banks of the Tyne..."

William Wordworth. Lyrical Ballads, Volume 2 (1800)

Cherryburn, the birthplace of Thomas Bewick.  It is now home to a museum about his life and work. (Address: Cherryburn, Station Bank, Mickley, Northumberland, NE43 7DD)  Mike Quinn [CC-BY-SA-2.0]
Cherryburn, the birthplace of Thomas Bewick. It is now home to a museum about his life and work. (Address: Cherryburn, Station Bank, Mickley, Northumberland, NE43 7DD) Mike Quinn [CC-BY-SA-2.0] | Source

About Thomas Bewick

Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) is reckoned to be Northumberland's greatest artist, wood engraver and naturalist.

The single most important source of information on Thomas Bewick is his own Memoir. Iain Bain, an expert on Thomas Bewick, produced an edition in 1975 which was based on the original manuscript now in the British Museum.

Video to celebrate the 250th anniversart of Bewick's birth

2003 was the 250th anniversary of Thomas Bewick's Birth. The Bewick Society received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which helped them to produce and publish a video about Thomas Bewick. The guide is local historian John Grundy and the film was produced by Roger Burgess.

Video: Thomas Bewick - Part one of Five

Video: Thomas Bewick - Part Two of Five

Video: Thomas Bewick - Part Three of Five

Video: Thomas Bewick - Part Four of Five

Video: Thomas Bewick - Part Five of Five

Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick
Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick

Paperback: 480 pages

Publisher: University Of Chicago Press;

Reprint edition (May 15, 2009

 

"Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick"

Winner of the National Arts Writers Award in America.

Rated an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars by 8 customer ratings | 5 customer reviews

A richly illustrated biography of the artist whose miniature creations changed the way we view the world.

'With Bewick on my knee I was then happy'
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

 The Woodcock, from 'The Water Birds.' (1804)
The Woodcock, from 'The Water Birds.' (1804) | Source

A General History of Quadrupeds

The very large (7 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches) wood engraving by Thomas Bewick of a Chillingham Bull, executed for Marmaduke Tunstall of Wycliffe, Yorkshire in 1789.
The very large (7 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches) wood engraving by Thomas Bewick of a Chillingham Bull, executed for Marmaduke Tunstall of Wycliffe, Yorkshire in 1789. | Source

A General History of Quadrupeds - The figures engraved on wood - wood engravings by Thomas Bewick

A General History of Quadrupeds was first published in 1790. The aim of the book was to encourage people to study natural history.

This publication showcases Bewick's groundbreaking engraving techniques that allowed text and images to be published on the same page. 200 figures of quadrupeds were engraved by Bewisk for the book - as well as the many vignettes or tail-pieces.

Wood engraving "The Arabian Horse" by Thomas Bewick in his "A General History of Quadrupeds", 1790
Wood engraving "The Arabian Horse" by Thomas Bewick in his "A General History of Quadrupeds", 1790 | Source
Source

A tail-piece from The General History of Quadrupeds (2nd edition). Austin Dobson (1840-1921), the poet and biographer, describes it as follows

"The tottering child, whose nurse is seen in the background, has strayed into the meadow, and is pulling at the tail of a vicious-looking colt, with back-turned eye and lifted heel. Down the garden-steps the mother hurries headlong; but she can hardly be in time"

(in Andrew Lang, The Library, Chapter V)

"Vignettes" by Thomas Bewick

Vignettes
Vignettes

Hardcover: 192 pagesPublisher: Scolar Press (November 17, 1977)

 
'Great Bustard' By Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) (History of British Birds (1797-1804))
'Great Bustard' By Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) (History of British Birds (1797-1804)) | Source

The History of British Birds

BOOKS: A History of British Birds - books on Amazon

Bewick's British Birds
Bewick's British Birds

Hardcover: 208 pagesPublisher: Arcturus Publishing (September 30, 2010)

 

The History of British Birds

Two volumes of the History of British Birds were published

  • Land Birds in 1797 and
  • Water Birds in 1804.

The volumes reveal Bewick as being a keen observer of wildlife.

The History of British Birds, Volume I, containing the "History and Description of Land Birds," was published a number to times during Bewick's lifetime

Thomas Bewick - in exhibitions, museums, art galleries and university libraries

The first contemporary exhibition of Thomas Bewicks Tale Pieces anywhere in the UK was held at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingam in 2009

Wood engraving and wood block printing

Video: Thomas Bewick and wood-block printing | Natural History Museum

BOOKS: Wood Engraving

Wood Engraving and Linocutting
Wood Engraving and Linocutting

Author: Anne Hayward

Hardcover: 160 pages

Publisher: Crowood Press (May 13, 2008)

 

"Wood Engraving and Linocutting"

Besides being a very practical and helpful book, this is one of the first places where I saw a feature on Thomas Bewick and saw some of his work up close.

"Woodcuts by Thomas Bewick and his School"

1800 Woodcuts by Thomas Bewick and His School (Dover Pictorial Archives)
1800 Woodcuts by Thomas Bewick and His School (Dover Pictorial Archives)

Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer ratings | 2 customer reviews

 

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      editionh 6 years ago

      Great lens! I never heard of Bewick before. The Barn Owl is a great piece!