William Henry Bartlett, who was born of a middle class family in London, was apprenticed at the age of 13 to the architect and antiquarian John Britton (1771-1857). He worked for him as a journeyman providing both purely architectural and detailed landscapes sketches, making him one of the greatest illustrators of topography of his generation at a time when the taste for picturesque landscape and the sublimity of mountain scenery was popular. He travelled all over Britain and in the mid 1840s in the Balkans and the Middle East.
Between 1835 and 1852 he made four visits to the United States in order to draw the buildings, towns and scenery of the North-eastern states. These illustrations were published uncoloured by Nathaniel Parker Willis’s American Scenery (1840) and Canadian Scenery Illustrated (1842). American Scenery was also published by George Virtue, his major publisher, and was immensely popular. The five-by-seven-inch sepia sketches included in it owed much to the theories of William Gilpin and Edmund Burke, emphasizing the irregularity of the landscape and the contrast between light and shadow. Bartlett’s primary concerns to render ‘lively impressions of actual sights’ still make his landscapes easily recognisable and consequently historically considerably valuable.
Bartlett was also the author of numerous works including two books on the United States, one containing original chronicles of the Pilgrims. In these books his narrative is realistic and descriptions accurate. Bartlett’s work which merits great attention can be seen in institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the British Museum and the V&A in London.
Charles Mottram was an English engraver whose line engravings include a reduced-size plate after Edwin Landseer’s The Challenge and a large plate after Rosa Bonheur’s Breton Oxen, both engraved in 1862. He also reproduced in mezzotint Thomas Jones Barker’s Morning before the Battle and Evening after the Battle published in 1865 and 1866. His most celebrated works however are the three mixed mezzotints plates reproducing John Martin’s Latest Judgement (1853), Plains of Heaven (1851-3) and �Great Day of His Wrath (1851-3) all in London at the Tate Gallery. The three subjects were published by Thomas McLean in 1854 and their popularity lasted well into the 20th century. Mottram was an expert in the application to steel plates of ‘sky tints’ with the use of the ruling machine.
George Vertue was a London writer, engraver and antiquary well known for print engravings. He selected the best artists and engravers to produce books of the highest quality and created a prodigious business, producing more than 20,000 copper and steel engravings throughout his career. He published two magazines, The Art Union and Sharpe’s London Magazine. His publishing house was at 26 Ivy Lane in London. In 1717 he was appointed first Draughtsman and Engraver to the Society of Antiquaries and most of his work from that date concentrated on recording and illustrating archaeological finds, ancient buildings and antiquities. He amassed an enormous amount of information on aged and contemporary artists and catalogued numerous collections, including the Royal Collection under the patronage of Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1749. Forty volumes of his notes in preparation for a publication on the history of art of England were edited and published by Horace Walpole after his death as Anecdotes of Painting in England. These can be seen at the British Library, London and have been published by The Walpole Society.
Farming has been the main source of prosperity of Colchester for most of its history except when the Dutch weavers settled. Consequently the town has had three Corn Exchanges over the past 200 years. The first Corn Exchange was situated in the ground floor of the Old Dutch Bay Hall, at the top of the High Street where the Fire Office is. However with the bay and say trade vanishing, and the building decaying, in 1758 the Hall was demolished and farmers had to wait until 1820 for a new building to be erected on the same site. Situated at the centre of the town, the new Corn Market was unrivalled in Essex and as previously played a dual part with the farmers meeting on the ground floor and the insurance company, instead of the wealthy Dutch weavers of the 16th century, working above. With the farming trade expanding the Fire Office soon became too small and a third Corn Exchange was built in 1886 on the site of the Roman Market. The previous Corn Exchange building, the one we can see in this print, became successively a Technical School, an Art Gallery and the Colchester Repertory Theatre. It is now used for offices and shops. As for the last Corn Exchange building, by 1962, it became disused and turned into a mixture of venues for exhibitions, wrestling, dances, bingo, roller skating and the Oyster Feast. There is now no Corn Exchange in Colchester any more.
- BRITTON, J., ‘Mr. William Henry Bartlett’, Art-Journal, London and New York, 1855
- BRITTON, J., The autobiography of John Britton, 3 vol., London, 1849-50,
- BRUNET, Michel and HARPER, J. Russell, Québec 1800, W.H. Bartlett: un essai de gravures romantiques sur le pays du Québec au XIXe siècle, Montréal, 1968
- HARPER, J. Russell, Early painters and engravers in Canada, Toronto, 1970
- WALPOLE, Horace, Anecdotes of painting in England : with some account of the principal artists and incidental notes on other arts/collected by the late Mr. George Vertue and now digested and published from his original Mss, London, 1782