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Thomas Bewick: Tale-Pieces

Thomas Bewick: Tale-Pieces
Library Shelf Location 18.BEWI
Publication Date 2009
Description Ikon presented the first exhibition devoted entirely to the vignettes of British wood engraver, artist and naturalist Thomas Bewick. Born in Cherryburn, near Mickley, Northumberland in 1753, Bewick worked in Newcastle until his death in 1828. Clearly infuenced by his childhood on a small farm on the banks of the river Tyne, Bewick’s love of the countryside is reflected in his detailed woodcuts of animals, birds and rural scenes. Amongst his most ambitious projects were illustrations for General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and History of British Birds (two volumes, 1797 and 1804), both of which also included a great number of vignettes. Bewick referred to these as ‘tale-pieces’. Intended as illustrations of “some truth or point of some moral” they provide an invaluable insight into social history while also demonstrating the artist’s imagination and wit. Bewick’s images frequently reveal human frailties; one depicts a drunkard seeing two moons in the night sky; another shows a horse stopping on the bank of a river to avoid falling into the water, while his rider is oblivious. A dog is also present and aware of the imminent danger. An interpretation, written later by his daughter Jane, sums up the artist’s general attitude: “Instinct teaches these two dumb animals to walk wisely – churches and sign-boards do not avail in teaching men to keep in the right path”. Mortality is a subject to which Bewick often returns. In one poignant vignette he shows us children dressed in tall hats, holding swords aloft, riding gravestones like hobby-horses. A late subject is an emaciated horse, standing exposed to the cruel elements, “Waiting for Death”.
ISBN 9781904864516
Quantity 1
Pages 200
Editor Jonathan Watkins
Format Hardback
Publisher Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Related Artist Thomas Bewick
Category Printmaking
Related Gallery Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne
Artist's Nationality British/UK
Language English

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