D Havell (1785 – 1822) after William Westall (1781 – 1850)

The Library of St John’s College, Cambridge (1815)


Hand-coloured aquatint

24 x 29.5 cm

Published by Rudolph Ackermann (1764 – 1834).

An engraving of St John’s College, Cambridge’s marvellous library. It was built between 1623 and 1628, largely through the donations and efforts of two members of the college: Valentine Carey, Bishop of Exeter, and John Williams, Lord-Keeper and Bishop of Lincoln. The building’s shell was completed in 1624, a date which appears on the south gable of the western oriel window. The building is constructed in the Jacobean Gothic style, and measures 110 feet by 30 feet wide. The tall two-light windows are a very early example of Gothic Revival, but the façade is Renaissance-inspired. The library contains 42 bookcases arranged at right angles to the north and south walls, and is the home of the College’s double-manual harpsichord.

William Westall was a British landscape artist. He was born in Hertford and enrolled at the Royal Academy schools in 1799. He later became the draughtsman for a voyage to Australia and the South Seas. After being shipwrecked, he travelled to Canton in China and to India, staying in Bombay for several months. He returned to England in 1805 but later set off for Madeira and Jamaica. He became a member of the Society of Painters in Water Colours (1811) and an associate of the Academy (1812). Following a mental breakdown, he regularly visited the Lake District and published ‘Views of the Valley and Vale of Keswick’ (1820). His series of aquatints of the Thames, the great universities, and England”s public schools for Ackermann are among his most popular works.

The Havell family of Reading, Berkshire, England, included a number of notable engravers, etchers and painters, as well as writers, publishers, educators, and musicians. Daniel and Robert Havell set up in partnership as aquatint engravers. Soon Daniel began to work independently, engraving plates for Rudolph Ackermann”s History of Cambridge (1815) and hid history of various public schools including Eton, Winchester, and Rugby (1816), as well as a celebrated views of St Paul”s Cathedral (1818) and various other London landmarks for Ackermann”s Repository of Arts.

Rudolph Ackermann was an Anglo-German bookseller, inventor, lithographer, publisher and businessman. In 1795 he established a print-shop and drawing-school at 96 Strand. Here Ackermann set up a lithographic press and began a trade in prints. He later began to manufacture colours and thick carton paper for landscape and miniature painters. Within three years the premises had become too small and he moved to 101 Strand, in his own words “four doors nearer to Somerset House”, the seat of the Royal Academy of Arts. Between 1797 and 1800 Ackermann rapidly developed his print and book publishing business, encompassing many different genres including topography, caricature, portraits, transparencies and decorative prints.

Condition: good. Some age toning.

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