NEVILLE, After A. W. (fl. 1860-1870)
The First Flight. (All plain sailing)
London: J. McQueen, 24 June 1871. Aquatint, printed in colours and finished by hand, by William Summers. Image size (including text): 17 1/4 x 30 inches. Sheet size: 21 1/8 x 33 5/8 inches.
Second issue of this fine print (first published 21 October 1867) from the 'McQueen's Steeple Chasings' series.
A charming period piece. Very much of its time, all the animation in this plate is reserved for the spectators. The jockeys are depicted as completely impassive "there is more animation in a Sovereign's Escort of Life Guards trotting down the Mall on a wet morning than can be found in... Summers' engraving of these supposedly thrilling scenes" (Charles Lane Sporting Aquatints and their Engravers , vol.II, p.76). Lane presents this as a fault, but it is also what gives this image its charm, everything is beautifully observed, and the aquatinting is technically excellent, the landscape is finely realised and the crowd is full of incident but at the centre of the scene are these almost surreal figures passing through as if in a dream. Little is known of either Neville (Lane lists this and one other racing plate by him), or the engraver William Summers.
Lane British Racing Prints p.143.