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    Sale 5141

    Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts

    12 November 2007, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 144

    BEWICK, Thomas (1753-1828). Autograph letter signed to Captain Robert MITFORD, Newcastle, 20 July 1824, 1¼ pages, folio, with numerous pen trials (some watercolour staining); together with Selwyn Image, Thomas Bewick, London: The Print Collector's Club, 1932, 4to, no. 192 of a limited edition of 500 copies. Both in modern cloth box.

    Price Realised  

    BEWICK, Thomas (1753-1828). Autograph letter signed to Captain Robert MITFORD, Newcastle, 20 July 1824, 1¼ pages, folio, with numerous pen trials (some watercolour staining); together with Selwyn Image, Thomas Bewick, London: The Print Collector's Club, 1932, 4to, no. 192 of a limited edition of 500 copies. Both in modern cloth box.

    The wood-engraver Thomas Bewick thanks Mitford for his letter and white paint, 'which it seems is from the hands of a fair Lady'. Overwhelmed by work, he nevertheless offers to print some bookplates, and suggests an acquaintance, 'a dog breaker & woodman' who also 'stood pre-eminently high as a destroyer or catcher of vermin', for the position at Prestwick Car. Formerly a Sergeant of the Northumberland Militia, Bewick admits that the gamekeeper had 'got very often engaged in fighting with the champions of other Regiments, or indeed with any other champions ... & in this way became accounted a great or mischievous blackguard' but insists that now 'he has no doubt cooled'.
    Captain Robert Mitford (1781-1870), distinguished naval officer and ornithologist, already an accomplished draughtsman, became a pupil of Thomas Bewick in 1816; he then taught the art of copper-plate engraving and etching to his brother-in-law, Prideaux John Selby. Together they produced the first life-size portrayal of British birds, Illustrations of British Ornithology (1821-32). Bewick praised the work of both Mitford and Selby in a letter of 1819, as 'superiour as to drawing & effect to things of the kind done in a more finished manner, in works on Ornithology of high repute' (Bain I, p.42). (2)


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