The Art of Thomas Bewick is the first book to interpret the art of the wood engraver Thomas Bewick (1753 – 1828) and set it in the context of history, revealing the connections between Bewick's political and religious views – reflections of the late eighteenth-century Enlightenment – and the character of his images.
Bewick was both an important contributor to the history of British ornithology and a highly original artist and printmaker. His depictions of the natural world, particularly of British birds, set new standards of realism and authenticity, while his graphic scenes of country life were unparalleled in their thoughtfulness, mingling humour and tragedy. His lively depictions of dogs, horses and other animals can also be seen as the expression of a new insight and sensibility: part of the growing movement for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Allowing Bewick's art to be viewed in a broad context of the artistic and scientific culture of his age, this lavishly illustrated book will appeal to naturalists, especially ornithologists and birdwatchers; historians of science, art and country life; those interested in the history of animal rights and protection; and students of painting and print media.
Foreword and acknowledgements
Chapter 1 Introduction: the man behind the books
Chapter 2 'Truth is to bend to nothing, but all to her': Bewick as a naturalist
Chapter 3 'Endless conjectures': Bewick's tail-pieces
Chapter 4 A mind 'impressed with the feelings of humanity': Bewick's scenes of animal life
Chapter 5 'Know your Bewick': the Victorian inheritance
Appendix 1 An analysis of Bewick's representation of species in A History of British Birds
Appendix 2 Bewick's workshop, and the role of the apprentices
Diana Donald was formerly Head of the Department of Art History at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has published widely on the history of prints, and on images of animals and the natural world, most recently in the widely acclaimed Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts (2009).
"This is a first-rate study on Bewick and on his impact in the nineteenth century both as a naturalist and as a wood engraver. Diana Donald is well known for her major contributions to the history of graphic art and to the interrelation between the visual arts and scientific enquiry in the nineteenth century. She draws on both these strengths here to produce a study of major importance that will surely help to reestablish Bewick as a figure of central cultural importance."
- William Vaughan, University of London