Laroon, The Quarrel
Hollar, Glastoniensis
Hollar, Landscape with Herdsmen
Smith, Mr. Will: Richards
Hogarth, Southwark Fair
Smith, The Virgin Mary
Hogarth, Midnight Modern
Robinson, Banquet Piece
att. to Vanderbank, Senesino
Beauclerk, Street Musicians
Haward, Mrs. Siddons
Gillray, Comfort to the Corns
Cheesman, The Seamstress
Anonymous, Diamond
Rowlandson, Gaffers
Bartolozzi, Miss Farren
Anonymous, Beatrice Fishing
Say, Miss Mellon
Rowlandson, The Poacher
Smith, Narcissa
Cruikshank, The Cholic
Vendramini, Strawberrys, Scarlet
Cruikshank, A Catalanian PicNic
Morland, Peasants Resting
Cruikshank, Sales by Auction!
Daniell, Joseph Haydn
Williams, Leap Year
Finch, In the Park
Cruikshank, A Consultation
Anonymous, Duck Shooting
Heath, A Pleasant Draught
O’Neill, The Mill
Cruikshank, Hint to the Blind
Craig, Trees
Heath, Blessing of Cheap Cider
Calvert, The Brook
Calvert, Cottage and Trees
Lisle, I’d be a butterfly
Palmer, Early Plowman
Leitch, Shepherd
Whistler, La Vieille aux Loques
Haden, A Water Meadow
Whistler, The Brothers
Cameron, The Palace
Strang, The Cause of the Poor
Detmold, Long-Eared Bat
Detmold, Phoenix
Click on an image above or a title at the left to view the work.

British Drawings and Prints of Two Centuries – Plus a Few Precursors

            We apologize to Miss Austen for the abuse of her title.  She made a nice distinction.  We have a somewhat broader one to make, though in a narrower area. 

            British graphic art, from the early eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, saw the coexistence of two quite different genres of work: the sensible (or sentimental, not a pejorative then) and the satirical, which, while it was not really non-sensical, came perilously close to it at times.  Sensibility is defined as an acute emotional reaction, as opposed to an intellectual one, to…well, to almost anything.  In social life, it was often a commiseration with the problems of others, but one could also be emotionally moved by beauty, by fame, by heroism, by landscape, by a tree, a horse or a dog.  And so, an art of sensibility was created.  At the same time, there was the completely non-sentimental, sometimes cutting and sometimes merely ridiculous, art of satire.  Interesting that they should both appeal at the same time, and perhaps even to the same people.

            In purely technical terms, sensible art was experimental and took many forms: drawing and watercolor, of course, and etching, but also print-making techniques that came to be known as particular British specialties: mezzotint, stipple engraving, soft-ground etching,  Satirical art, apart from the necessary drawing and watercolor, confined itself essentially to one: etching, usually colored by hand. Later, lithography came into both genres, experimental in sensible art, a mere replacement for etching (and again, usually hand colored) in satirical work.  Sentimentality, one would think, would have been killed off by the onset of the art of realism, sometime around 1860, but somehow it survived.  Satirical art continues to the present day, but not so much in the form of collectible prints.  In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, those British satires were posted almost daily in the windows of print sellers, and passers-by stopped to look at the latest ones and often stepped into the store to buy one.

            This little survey begins with a few precursors of both genres, stops part way to look at Whistler’s realism and later impressionism, includes a couple of items not easily characterized, and concludes with an almost scientifically precise portrait  of a bird that never existed, perhaps the ultimate in at least one kind of sensibility.  There are gaps that would have been nice to fill, but this is, after all, only a web exhibition and not a treatise.

Enjoy the images for what they are.