Collecting rare landscape prints remains popular for many even in a tech filled world. These topographical prints appeal to a wide range of interests, they remain collectors items, make wonderful decorative gifts and for some are an investment.
Aquatint may be something new to you, you may be surprised to hear it actually dates back to the mid-seventeenth century but really became a popular technique in around 1770. At the time aquatint was the perfect solution to reproducing landscape images, all in keeping with the popularity of watercolour painting at the time.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder the saying goes. The truth is you the observer get to decide what is beautiful, so see what you think of Daniell's work. It's widely accepted one of the most impressive figures in the history of aquatinted topography is William Daniell. Born in 1769, William was the eldest son of the landlord of the Swan Inn at Chertsey, Surrey. By the time he was 15 years of age Daniell's uncle Thomas took him to India where they spent years touring, painting and sketching.
The scarce print shown above is one of six superb views of London produced by Daniell in 1804 showing Somerset House before the embankment.
Prints more easy to find and popular are from his work "Voyage around Great Britain." All the illustrations were hand coloured aquatints, drawn and engraved by Daniell. The aquatints were initially printed in brown and grey-blue and the rest of the colouring was added by hand by a team employed by William Timms of Hampstead Road, London. The work took eleven years to complete. Starting at Land's End travelling up the northern coast of Cornwall, the coastline of Wales, north west England, Scotland, some of the islands and back down the east coast of England and then on back along the south coast returning to Land's End.
The 308 hand-coloured aquatints were accompanied by a descriptive text written for the first two volumes by Richard Ayton. A set of the Entire 'Voyage' sold for £60 or one and a half times what a fisherman or a sailor aboard a merchant ship could expect to earn in a year at the time! The quality of colouring is exceptional on original plates, delicate and restrained. If the coast of Great Britain is of interest to you then I can recommend none better than William Daniell aquatints. His now very scarce superb views of London, produced in larger folio size are very collectable, when you can find them! Enjoy the hunt!
The scarce aquatint print of Somerset House is available HERE