Thew, Robert

, an excellent engraver, was born in 1758, at Pattrington, in Holderness, in the East Riding of York, where his father was an innkeeper. At a proper age he was placed as an apprentice to a cooper, at which business, on the expiration of his apprenticeship, he worked some time. During the American war he became a private in ifie Northumberland militia; at the conclusion of which, in 1783, he came to settle at Hull, where he commenced engraver of shop-bills, cards, &c. One of his fust attempts was a card for a tinner and brazier, executed in a very humble style. He engraved and published a plan of Hull, which is dated May 6, 1784, and afterwards solicited subscriptions for two views of the dock at that place, which, it is thought, he shortly after published. He also engraved, while there, a head of Harry Rowe, the famous puppet-showman of York, after a drawing by J. England. Another account says, that an engraving of an old woman’s head, after Gerard Dow, was his first attempt, and appeared so extraordinary, that on the recommendation of the hon. Charles Fox, the duchess of Devonshire, and lady Duncannon, he was appointed historical engraver to the prince of Wales. In 1788, the marquis of Carmarthen, whose patronage he first obtained by constructing a very curious camera obscura, wrote him a recommendatory | lelter to Alderman Boy dell, who immediately offered him 300 guineas to engrave a plate from Northcote’s picture of Edward V. taking leave of his brother the duke of York. He afterwards engraved, for Boydell, a number of capital plates from the Shakespeare gallery,and from the paintings by sir Joshua Reynolds, Shee, Westall, Smirke, Fuseli, Northcote, Peters, &c. all which are very extraordinary specimens of graphic excellence, and have been highly and deservedly approved by the connoisseur, and well received by the public. Of Boydell’s Shakspeare, nineteen of the large plates are from his hand. He had received very little instruction, but depended solely on native genius, aided by an intense application, by which \\e suddenly arrived at great excellence in the art. Almost at the outset of his career he became connected with Messrs. Boydell by extensive engagements on their Shakspeare, a work which will long bear ample testimony to his rare merit and talents. The distinguishing characteristics of his practice consisted in most faithfully exhibiting the true spirit and style of each master; a most minute accuracy, a certain polish, and exquisite delicacy of manner; with the appropriate character given to all objects, while a mildness of tone and perfect harmony pervaded the whole piece. The Cardinal Wolsey entering Leicester Abbey, from Westall, is certainly the greatest effort of his skill, and is, by many of the bestinformed connoisseurs and artists, held to be a first-rate specimen in that style of engraving. This ingenious artist died in July 1802, at Stevenage in Hertfordshire. 1


Gent. Mag. 1802.