||BELLIN, Samuel after John LUCAS
[Robert Stephenson Esq. M.P.]
Published by Henry Graves & Co, Feb. 21, 1853. Hand-coloured mezzotint. State ii/iii with the artists' names and the sitter's facsimile signature. Facsimile signature in lower right margin. Prinsellers Association stamp in lower left corner. On fine India paper mounted onto thick white wove as issued. In excellent condition. Image size: 27 3/8 x 17 1/8 inches. Plate mark: 31 ¾ x 20 ¼ inches. Sheet size: 34 9/16 x 22 1/8 inches.
This portrait of Robert Stephenson, the famous engineer who built the Britannia Bridge, is a wonderful example of an early coloured mezzotint.
Robert Stephenson was the son of the famous engineer George Stephenson who invented one of the earliest steam locomotives. After studying at Edinburgh University, Stephenson joined with his father and founded one of the largest locomotive manufacturers in the world. In 1833, Robert was appointed chief engineer of the London and Birmingham railway, a project that was riddled with difficult engineering obstacles. Upon its successful completion, Robert went on to construct railways across the world and is regarded, along with his father, as one of the founders of railway engineering. Stephenson is best known for his design for the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait in Wales, which is pictured in the background of Lucas's robust portrait. Robert Stephenson was not only a talented engineer but also a beloved figure of his day. A contemporary writer described England's admiration for Stephenson best when he wrote: "Not to his mere mechanical skill does he owe his success in life. That might have been thwarted in five hundred ways by interested rivals; but men wish not to thwart those whom they love; and probably no chief of an army was ever more beloved of his soldiers that Robert Stephenson has been by the noble army of physical workers."
O'Donoghue, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits...in the British Museum 1; Lennox-Boyd & Stogdon, state ii/ii.