The Bewick Collection at The Edmonton Art Gallery

Skating on a Frozen  RiverThomas Bewick, Skating on a Frozen River, c. 1804
wood engraving, 3.3 x 7.5 cm
EAG 90.42.154

In 1990, The Edmonton Art Gallery was extremely fortunate in receiving a very significant gift. Through the generosity of Mr. David Lemon of Vancouver, the gallery received a collection of no less than 830 wood engravings by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) and his school.

Edmonton's collection consists of impressions individually printed on a highly receptive Japan paper. As such, they are in a different category to anything found in book form.

Since most of Bewick's wood engravings were meant to be used in book illustration, there were very few proof impressions made from his blocks without text, a practice which he himself did not favour. Exceptions were known to have been made for his daughters in about 1824 or 1825, and, in correspondence, Bewick refers to "some India paper sets I gave to my three treasures."

The provenance of this set of impressions can in fact be traced back to one of his daughters, Jane Bewick (1787-1881). The collection was acquired by one of Bewick's executors, John Hancock (1808-1890), for the Rev. William Kingsley (1815-1916) who subsequently gave the collection to a Marmaduke Morris in 1908. The collection was then sold at Sotheby's in 1945, and was subsequently acquired by Mr. Lemon from a British dealer. This is one of the finest collections of Bewick's wood engravings on the North American continent, and The Edmonton Art Gallery is pleased to celebrate its presence by producing this web site for the work of Thomas Bewick.

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