Thomas Bewick


The Chillingham Bull

The Chillingham Bull by Thomas Bewick


Wood engraving1789141x200mm (without border)[sheet 250x301mm]

Reference: Boalch 1; Hugo 3295-3306:
Anderton, B. & Gibson, W.H., Catalogue of the Bewick Collection (Pease Bequest). Public Libraries Committee,
City & County of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1904, no.272.


A fine lifetime example of the rare fourth state of five with the five-line border. This was unknown to Hugo but exists in the Pease Bequest [no. 272], having formerly belonged to the chapbook illustrator, Joseph Crawhall. Another impression can be seen in the British Museum [1882,0311.2954]. In a note originally pasted to the back of the frame Crawhall described this as a third state of four, noting that impressions, are of unusual brilliancy and of a higher degree of rarity than either of those of the previous states.....Mr. Robert Robinson was the first to discover the peculiarity of impression & he is only aware of the existence of two others. The earlier states he refers to are those with the ornamental border of which there are very few genuine examples; many are fakes and can pose significant problems to the unwary collector. Anderton and Gibson now describe five states, the first three with the elaborate ornamental border which was removed in 1817, the fourth as here, and the fifth with a single-line border (Hugo calls for a double line). Much more noticeable in the fifth state however, is that the block is badly cracked, in spite of earlier attempts to clamp it and impressions are much marred. Impressions were printed again in 1878 by Robinson without a border and are quite presentable although the cracks are plainly visible. The present example is printed on thin wove paper sometime between 1817 and 1823 when it was given by Bewick to George Atkinson; it is inscribed in ink, The Gift of Thomas Bewick - To his young friend Mr George Atkinson. 14 March 1823

The Chillingham Bull was considered by Bewick to be his masterpiece. It is a landmark in the history of British wood engraving.