Book Illustration

From the second edition of Croxall's Select Collection of Novels, 1729. See Book Illustrators in Eighteenth Century England, Hanns Hammelmann and T.S.R.Boase, Yale 1975, pp 62, 81. Croxall's publication "is important not only for containing the first publication in English of a number of major novels from the French, Italian and Spanish, but also for the fact that they include, among the thirty-six scenes illustrated, work by Highmore, Monamy, Cheron and Tillemans." This comment by Hammelmann & Boase comes in an informative entry on John Vanderbank, where Lord Carteret, a Jerseyman, is revealed as a classical scholar, linguist and patron of publishing.

The picture below is inserted here as an example of book illustration in the 1720s and '30s. The engraver later produced what I regard as the two first engravings of Monamy's Vauxhall paintings: Sweet William's Farewell and the Algerine Pirates. It seems possible that Fourdrinier was patronised by the Walpoles, and might therefore have rejected offers to continue engraving the Vauxhall pictures after 1740.

An illustration, right, by Paul Fourdrinier from The Works of Virgil, translated into English blank verse; three volumes, published by Joseph Trapp in 1731. This is a scene from Book 4 of the Æneid.

Fourdrinier came to London from France in 1720, and died in 1758. He engraved the plans and elevations of Houghton Hall, the seat of the Walpoles. It was thought for many years that there were two Fourdriniers, both engravers, but this has been shown to be wrong by Dr Murdoch. See here.

Biographical information from op cit.

Dipping into Francis Barlow: First Master of English Book Illustration, by Edward Hodnett, 1978, p.86, it was amusing to register that Fourdrinier's illustration had been directly copied from an engraving by Hollar, in 1656, after Francis Cleyn, 1582-1657/8. Cleyn lived the greater part of his life in England, and Hodnett notes that he was "an early instance of an illustrator whose conscience was troubled by plagiarism".

Perhaps Fourdrinier is correct in claiming to have sculp his engraving; although he fails to mention it is taken directly from an image fecit by W. Hollar and inv by F. Cleyn. There was too little room.


Monamy's etchings are another instance of his constant search for self-improvement. One of the difficulties of assessing his output is that he conveys a sense of being in a state of continual development. Most artists settle for one recognisable, unchanging style, which provides the collector, "connoisseur" and self-appointed "expert" with satisfying reassurance as his eye lights on another clearly signalled canvas. By contrast, Monamy's pictures display a range of immense variety, and, alongside the bread-and-butter calms, his oeuvre is one of perpetual invention and experiment, until the very ending of his life, with its "many paintings begun and unfinished".

The divergence of penmanship in the inscriptions under the two etchings is noticeable. The italic hand under the calm looks like Monamy's own, whereas the writing under the breeze seems to be in a later, almost continental style.

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