Bible illustrations : The Macklin Bible, Volume 1

Bible illustrations

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Thomas Macklin, 1752-1800's Bible was published serially between 1791 and 1800 in London.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The project was one several ambitious projects that commissioned paintings of literary subjects, exhibited them at their premises, and sold engravings, and/or editions of the relevant text including the engravings, after the paintings by subscription. These ‘literary galleries’ sought to be both commercial printselling projects for the proprietors, and to foster British history painting, aligning with the ambitions of the Royal Academy to encourage a native school of painting in this genre. The foremost literary gallery was Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, which operated between 1789 and 1805.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Thomas Macklin's literary gallery project began with the Poets’ Gallery, which opened in 1788 at his premises on Pall Mall. Although Macklin’s gallery opened a year before Boydell’s, it is probable that Macklin was inspired by the Shakespeare project, which had been announced in 1786. At the Poets’ Gallery, Macklin was exhibited paintings by eminent British artists of great works of English poetry, which, as with Boydell’s Shakespeare pictures, were engraved for sale by subscription. The Poets’ Gallery continued to operate until 1796.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In 1789, the year after he opened the Poets’ Gallery, Macklin issued a prospectus, explaining that from the following year he would add scripture pictures to his exhibition, which would be reproduced in “a magnificent Bible.” The scripture pictures were exhibited at the Poets' Gallery's annual exhibitions between 1790 and 1796. The paintings were engraved as full-page plates for the Old and New Testaments. A handful of the 70 full-page plates were based on pictures that did not appear in Macklin's exhihibitions.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The paintings were dispersed at sales of Macklin's stock at Peter Coxe 1753-1844's auction house on 5 May 1800 and 29 May 1801. Many are now lost. Surviving paintings are in public and private collections in the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada and Australia.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In addition to its full-page plates, the Bible included head and tailpieces for each biblical book – 113 in total. All but two of the vignettes were designed by Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg, 1740-1812, who also painted 16 pictures for the full-page plates. The drawings for the vignettes were purchased by the publisher Robert Bowyer 1758-1834 and inserted into an extra-illustrated copy of the Macklin Bible, which is now in the collection of <a target='_blank' class='externalLink uom-purple' href=''>Bolton Libraries and Museums</a>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In common with the other literary galleries of the period, Macklin's Bible project was a commercial failure, owing to a combination of poor business decisions and wider economic factors. The Bible was nevertheless celebrated as a fine production and for its patronage of artists. A second edition of the Old and New Testaments was published by Cadell & Davies in 1824 using the original plates, and the designs were widely copied in nineteenth century Bibles published in Britain in North America.</p>The full-page plates and headpiece and tailpiece vignettes were published by Macklin, and the text was printed for Macklin by Thomas Bensley 1760?–1835. The type was cut by Joseph Jackson 1733-1792 and Vincent Figgins 1770-1844, Jackon's apprentice. The paper was made by Whatman.<p style='text-align: justify;'>The instructions to the binder recommended binding the set in six volumes, but this set, like many others, was bound in seven. The Apocrypha, published by Cadell & Daviesin 1816, is Volume 8 of this set.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This volume contains the books of Genesis to Numbers. The volume includes 14 full-page plates by various artists and engravers, published between 31 January 1791 and 20 October 1800; and 6 headpiece (4) and tailpiece (2) vignettes (3 headpieces and 1 tailpiece designed by Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg 1740-1812; 1 headpiece designed by Thomas Stothard 1755-1834; 1 tailpiece designed by William Hamilton, 1751-1801; the vignettes are engraved by various engravers; not all are dated - the earliest date is 10 August 1791 (tailpiece to Exodus) and the latest 15 December 1791 (headpiece to Numbers) and it is likely that all were published in 1791). This volume also contains an elaborate engraved dedication page, dedicating the publication to King George III, engraved by Harry Ashby 1744-1818 after a calligraphy design by Thomas Tomkins 1743-1816 and dated January 1791. A list of references to the text and instructions to the binder are also included in the front matter.</p>

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