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In a very readable style, with a timeline, index and details for further reading, ‘The Mezzotint Man’ follows the life of this artist, who lived in relative obscurity within Victorian London, creating art in order to earn a living and support his family.
‘The Mezzotint Man’ by Michael Brewer uses an accessible and informative writing style that shines a light on the history of art and the art world that, for those like myself who don’t have an Art History background, may not have really given much thought about. We live in a world today where reproductions of great artworks are easily accessible and readily available for most budgets. Brewer uses ‘The Mezzotint Man’ to take us back to Victorian London, where the lines between art, culture and commerce were only just starting to blur; where a demand started for reproductions of popular paintings to be displayed in homes throughout the country. The thing that struck me initially, and something that I am assuming differs from today’s reprint market is the implication of collaboration between painter and engraver. It is stated early on that John Constable would only accept the purest form of mezzotint, which allowed for the most rich and detailed reproductions. This dictation of quality by the painter implies to me the teamwork between the craft of the artist in delivering the initial painting and the skill of the artist to create the mezzotint. Despite this teamwork, the mezzotint engravers feel to me to be hidden figures of the art world that Michel Brewer is helping to shine a light on. The focus of this biography, David Lucas, is a 19th century mezzotint engraver, described as ‘a quiet man’ by John Constable and, mostly known today for his engravings of Constable’s English Landscapes series. In a very readable style, with a timeline, index and details for further reading, ‘The Mezzotint Man’ follows the life of this artist, who lived in relative obscurity within Victorian London, creating art in order to earn a living and support his family. I found this book to be an enjoyable and educational look at how Victorian mass production impacted the world of Art, and the life of those working in this new industry. I feel this book is a valuable and intriguing read for those interested in Art History or the Victorian era more widely.
Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Mezzotint Man follows the life of one artist – the engraver David Lucas – whose work with the painter John Constable brought him renown without reward, a place in history despite neglect in his own time. The intriguing facts of his life are set against the backdrop of the maelstrom that was Victorian London, as this ‘quiet man’ (to use Constable’s description) pursued the art that he believed in with the hope that it would support the family he loved.
|Publication date:||10th May 2021|
|Primary Genre||Historical fiction|
Closing date: 30/06/2021