BRAY, Anna Eliza (1790-1883)
Life of Thomas Stothard, R.A. with personal reminiscences
London: Bradbury & Evans for John Murray, 1851. 1 volume expanded to ten, small quarto mounted to large quarto. (14 5/8 x 10 3/4 inches). Lithographic portrait frontispiece, on india paper mounted, additional title within decorative wood-engraved border printed in bistre, title with wood-engraved headpiece, numerous wood-engraved illustrations printed in bistre, extra-illustrated with approximately 1,344 additional items (including 1 autograph letter signed from the author, 8 original pen, ink and wash drawings by Stothard, 6 original watercolour drawings by Stothard, and 1,323 engravings after Stothard including 14 by William Blake).
19th-century red morocco gilt by Riviere, covers with wide decorative borders of filets and a decorative roll of stylized foliage and flower-heads with stylized flower-spray cornerpieces, spines in seven compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and third, the others with elaborate repeat decoration of massed small tools, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges (small expert repair to head of vol.VIII)
A unique collection of Stothard's work, based around the first edition of the first full biography of the artist by his daughter-in-law, expansively extra-illustrated with original watercolours, drawings and engravings after Stothard by many of the greatest engravers of the late-18th and early 19th century, including Stothard's friend William Blake
'In 1779 Stothard commenced his career as an illustrator of books, being employed to illustrate Ossian and Hervey's Naval History. But his principal employers were Bell and Harrison, and in this year his numerous designs for Bell's Poets and Harrison's Novelist's Magazine began to be published. The first of the latter was a scene from Joseph Andrews (dated 1 Dec.), and in the following year he made no less than 148 drawings for this publication, for which he was paid a guinea apiece. He also made many drawings for the Ladies' Magazine in this and the following years, and a number of small but spirited drawings of the famous actors and actresses of the day. Among the prose works illustrated by him were novels by Fielding, Smollett, Richardson, and Sterne, Ridley's Tales of the Genii, Paltock's Peter Wilkins, Don Quixote, Gil Blas, Robinson Crusoe, the Arabian Nights, the Vicar of Wakefield, and Gulliver's Travels. These designs made a new departure in book illustration by their variety of invention, their literary sympathy, their spirit and their grace. Those to Peregrine Pickle and Peter Wilkins have been specially admired, but Stothard never surpassed those to Clarissa Harlowe for elegance, or those to Tristram Shandy for delicate humour. He may be said to have founded the types of Sancho Panza and Uncle Toby, afterwards adopted by his friend Charles Robert Leslie and others. To this period also belong a few charming illustrations to Ritson's Songs (1783). A little later (1788-9) came his illustrations to the Pilgrim's Progress, in which he found a region of pure but very human allegory well suited to his gentle imagination... To 1790 belong his illustrations to Robinson Crusoe, published by John Stockdale, and engraved by Medland, a series of great beauty (re-engraved by C. Heath, and published by Cadell thirty years later); and also a set of six charming groups of children at school and at play. Besides these more important designs, he executed a number of headpieces, tailpieces, frontispieces, and vignettes of all kinds, including some charming miniature drawings of royal festivities. He designed even shop-cards and fashion plates, for, though popular, he was poorly paid, and, having married in 1783, had to provide for an increasing family... It was in 1793 also that his first illustrations to Rogers's Pleasures of Memory were executed. The first edition of the poem in the British Museum, illustrated by Stothard, is dated 1794, but there are two engravings in the print-room (one of them the delightful Hunt the Slipper) which are dated 1793... In 1796... appeared his illustrations to the Fables of Flora, which are remarkable for the gracefulness of their fancy and the beautiful drawing of the flowers. In 1798 were published his beautiful illustrations to Pope's Rape of the Lock, in 1790 the Seven Ages from Shakespeare, and by the close of the century he may be said to have almost covered his field of illustration... During... [the early part of the 19th century]... his taste was frequently consulted in the decoration of the houses of his wealthy friends and patrons, of whom Samuel Rogers was the earliest and most constant. Stothard helped in the decoration of Rogers's house in St. James's Place (built 1803), and in the illustration of successive editions of his poems for over forty years. In the most elaborate editions of Rogers's Italy (1830) and the Poems (1834) Stothard joined with Turner in contributing illustrations, which were engraved on steel by Finden and others. The smaller engravings on wood by Luke Clennell (the first of which appeared in Rogers's Pleasures of Memory, 1810) are justly prized for their close imitation of Stothard's beautiful touch with the pen. Less known are the little illustrations of the Pleasures of Memory (1808) and Human Life (1810) in the Royal Engagement Pocket Atlas, an annual for which he provided the headpieces for many years... In 1815 Stothard went over to Paris with Chantrey and others, and visited the Louvre before the dispersion of Napoleon's spoils. In 1817 and 1818 respectively he exhibited San Souci and Fête Champêtre, in which the influence of Watteau is perceptible. They were followed in 1819 by the illustrations to Boccaccio (published 1825) already referred to. In 1821... he sustained a severe shock from the sudden death of his son, Charles Alfred [first husband of Mrs.Bray]. This is said to have had a permanent effect on his spirits... In 1825 his wife died, and in 1826 he lost his lifelong friend, Flaxman, who had in early life been attracted to him by the sight of some of his book illustrations in a shop window... He continued to walk out alone, in spite of his weakness and deafness, till the close of the autumn of 1833, when he was knocked over by a carriage. He sustained no apparent injury from the accident, but he never recovered from the effects of it, and died at his house, 28 Newman Street, on 27 April 1834. He was buried in Bunhill Fields... Stothard's life appears to have been as pure and blameless as the art to which it was devoted. His disposition was retiring, and he did not seek society; but he was justly esteemed by his fellow-artists and his few intimate friends. He paid visits to Archdeacon Markham and other of his friends; he went once to Paris; but his art supplied him with sufficient pleasure to the end of his life. As Leigh Hunt said of him in his last days, an angel dwelt in that tottering house amidst the wintry bowers of white locks, warming it to the last with summer fancies.' (DNB).
For Blake engravings: Bentley Blake Books 417C; 436; 485 (nos.1 and 2); 486 (nos. 2 and 3); 487 (nos.1, 2 and 3); 491 (no.7); 494 (nos.1,2,3 and 4).