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Picturesque Architecture: Lithographs by Thomas Shotter Boys

DATES January 04, 1940 through February 04, 1940
ORGANIZING DEPARTMENT European Painting and Sculpture
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  • January 5, 1939 Twenty-nine color-lithographs by Thomas Shotter Boys will be arranged by the Print Department of the Brooklyn Museum as an exhibition with the title “Picturesque Architecture”, on view- from Friday, January 5th, (1940) through Sunday, February 4th. There is timely interest in this showing as the plates are removed from a book entitled “Picturesque Architecture” by Boys which was published in 1839. The exhibition thus signalizes the 100th anniversary of one of the first important pieces of color lithography to be printed.

    In “Colour Printing and Colour Printers” by R. M. Burch, the author states that Thomas Shotter Boys was not nearly so well known as he deserved to be. In describing the significance of the work in the 1839 volume, he quotes the descriptive notice which is a preface in the book that says “‘the present work being unique of its kind, and the process by which it is produced being entirely new to the public, some account of the means employed’ was felt desirable. Accordingly the publisher pointed out that ‘the whole of the drawings composing this volume are produced entirely by means of lithography, they are printed in oil colours, and come from the press precisely as they now appear. It was expressly stipulated…that not a touch should be added afterwards, and this injunction has been strictly adhered to. They are pictures drawn on stone and reproduced by printing in colours, every touch is the work of the artist, and every impression the product of the press. This is the first, and as yet the only attempt to imitate pictorial effects of landscape architecture in chromo-lithography, and in its application to this class of subjects, it has been carried so far beyond what was required in copying polychrome architecture, hieroglyphics, arabesques, etc., that it has become almost a new art.’”

    Boys’ lithographs are considered among the best of his time. In addition to the plates to be in the exhibition he did the lithographs arid engraved some of the plates for Ruskin’s “Stones of Venice.” The artist was a conspicuous member of the large group of English watercolorists of the Romantic period. Critics feel that it was unfortunate for his fame that his work was published in the form of books. That handicap is overcome in this exhibition as the plates have been removed from the books and matted.

    He was born in Pentonville, England, apprenticed to an engraver. He intended but when the apprenticeship was over, he Parkes Bonington, who persuaded him to study he exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of 21 and in Paris at 24. During the next ten years he indulged in the Conttinent where he developed his rare technique for architectural delineation. He returned to England in 1837 and lithographed the works of David Roberts and Clarkson Stanfield. These works found ready sale. It was two years later that he published his own first great work, plates from which will make up the Museum exhibition. In 1843 he published “Original Views of London As It Is”. The work for Ruskin occurred in 1851.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 11-12/1939, 326-7.
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  • December 30, 1939 The exhibition of work by Abraham Walkowitz at the Brooklyn Museum has just been removed from the gallery walls and added to the Print Collection portfolios.

    On Friday, January 5th, an exhibition, “Picturesque Architecture”, color plates from a volume by Thomas Shotter Boys, will be put on view to run through Sunday, February 4th.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 11-12/1939, 340.
    View Original