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Boydell, John, 1720-1804

John Boydell account book : autograph manuscript, fragment.

London, 1752.
Physical Description:
2 leaves ; 37 x 15 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Folio A 2015 24
Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Arthur Weyhe
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
In the late 18th century, John Boydell (1720-1804) became the most important publisher of prints in Britain. In 1751, the year before the present accounts, Boydell had taken a shop at the corner of Queen Street in Cheapside, London.
The two leaves are described in detail, with full transcriptions, in: Gourlay, Alexander and Simon, Robin. "Not William Hogarth but John Boydell: attributing and elucidating two leaves from an 18th-century account book." British Art Journal, vol. XV, no. 1, pp. 35-46. The present record is based largely on the description in Gourlay and Simon.
Two consecutive leaves from an account book kept by John Boydell, covering the period January 1-February 5 and February 6-April 4, 1752. The accounts are recorded in the manner of a cashbook, in which an opening of the volume would have displayed income on the verso and outlays (for the same period) on the facing recto. Writing is in black ink, on ledgers ruled by hand. Both of the original leaves were mounted by later owners to sheets of paper (perhaps in albums).
The leaves were previously attributed to William Hogarth. Attribution to John Boydell is supported by references to "Bro Josiah" and "Mt. Jos. Boydell" on January 6 and January 21 (leaf 1r), and a comparison of the handwriting to documents written by John Boydell now in the Matthew Boulton Papers, Birmingham City Archives. See Gourlay and Simon.
The accounts show Boydell near the beginning of his career, as an engraver selling his own prints and as a printseller dealing in prints by others. "Clearly the bulk of his business at the early stage ... was still in the low end of the market ... At the same time Boydell was adding value to the prints he sold, not only by matting, framing and glazing, but by having them coloured with watercolour washes ... and by selling prints on glass ..." (Gourlay and Simon, pp. 38-39). Gourlay speculates that some purchases (including a washtub, a stool, and large bill from the furniture maker, Mr. Merryfield) are probably signs that Boydell intended to soon begin printing on his own premises, with a rolling press.
Boydell's expenditures for prints include: "French Prints"; "Adv. for Mt. Baudin"; "100 Metzitinto's"; "5 Maps"; "Met. [mezzotint] Mt. Faber"; "Mt. Roque for print"; "8 Prints after Nic. Poussin"; "2 Hogarths Prints" and "March to Finley" (a print by Hogarth). There are also expenditures for glass, frames, nails, pasteboard, rent, household goods, aprons, and orphans' tax. Sources of deposits include: "Prints"; "Views of Venice in Frames &c"; "Mrs Smith, Oxford"; "For Engrav. Inside of a Shop"; "Metzitinto's"; "Mt. King"; "Mt. Thos. Bowl's man"; "3 Painted on Glass & Frames"; "Mt. Jno. Bland"; "Mt. Edwards of Hallifax"; "Mt. Braim"; and "Mt. Elliott."
Subject Terms:
Art dealers -- Great Britain.
Art publishing -- Great Britain.
Baudin, Joseph, approximately 1691-1753.
Bowles, Thomas, -1767.
Boydell, John, 1720-1804 -- Finance, Personal.
Boydell, Josiah, born 1724?
Braim, Benjamin.
Edwards, William, 1721-1808.
Elliot, William, 1727-1766.
Engraving -- Great Britain.
Faber, John, 1695?-1756.
Foster, George, active 1737-1739.
Glass colored prints.
Hogarth, William, 1697-1764.
Major, Thomas, 1720-1799.
Map publishing -- Great Britain.
Merryfield, William.
Mezzotint engraving, British.
Poussin, Nicolas, 1594?-1665.
Prints -- Publishing -- Great Britain.
Publishers and publishing -- Great Britain.
Rocque, John, -1762.
Account books.
Hogarth, William, 1697-1764, attributed name.

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