Bewick, Thomas

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Bewick, Thomas (1755–1828). English animal artist and engraver, born near Newcastle upon Tyne, where he spent most of his life and established a school of engraving. He was apprenticed at 14 to Ralph Beilby, an engraver and jeweller with whom he was later in partnership for 20 years. A bird-watcher and countryman, Bewick's finest work is in natural history illustrations particularly to a number of his books, including A General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and A History of British Birds (1797, 1804). He is equally admired for his tailpieces, which are exquisite miniature scenes of shrewdly observed incidents of rustic life and manners in Georgian England. Regarded as the father of modern wood engraving, Bewick halted the decline of engraving into a primarily reproductive technique and brought to it new expressive possibilities. His Memoirs were published in part in 1862 and in full in 1975.

June Cochrane

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Thomas Bewick

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