The name of the artist-engraver W. Newman appears on a handful of satirical lithographs published in London during 1834-35. These works have previously been attributed to William Walker Newman (1817 – 1870), an artist who would go on to provide illustrations for the early editions of Punch before emigrating to America to pursue a career as a political satirist . Assuming this attribution is correct, Walker’s early plates, produced whilst he was still a teenager, remain uncatalogued in any of the major institutional collections of British satirical prints . This post therefore aims to address that deficit by providing a brief summary of these works.
The earliest datable plate to appear carrying Newman’s name was Female Emigration! which was published by G.S. Tregear of Cheapside during October 1834. The print mimics the style of C.J. Grant’s Every Body’s Album & Caricature Magazine, a popular fortnightly broadsheet of caricatures and scraps published by John Kendrick (and latterly Thomas Dawson) of Leicester Square, and presents a wholly unflattering view of life in Britain’s Australian colonies.
Newman’s name appears on the undated Frontispiece to Useful Knowledge which was also published by Tregear. The design was once again adapted from earlier works by C.J. Grant, in this case the Frontispiece for the Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge Vols. 1 & 2 which were published by Edward Lacey and George Purkers respectively. The latter plate is dated 9th May 1833 and it is possible that Tregear hired Newman to produce his derivative version around this time, although the satirical frontispiece remained a popular trope in Grant’s work throughout the mid-1830s and the print could conceivably date from any point between 1833 and 1835.
Newman also claimed to have engraved an unspecified number of plates for Flights of Humour and Rum Jokes, two long-running series of humorous lithographs published by G.S. Tregear over a number of years between c.1832 – 35. It’s not possible to quantify the extent of Newman’s contribution to either series, because the prints were normally issued without a publication date or artistic attribution, however it seems reasonable to assume that his involvement coincided with the period in which he was working with Tregear on the prints outlined above .
Finally, Newman’s name also appears on at least two other lithographic satires published around this time. The first is Frontispiece to the Law-List, which is very similar in style to Frontispiece to Useful Knowledge and was published by Orlando Hodgson of Clare Market. The second is Frontispiece to the Botanical Magazine, which was published by James Pattie from his self-styled “Wholesale Periodical & Caricature Shop” at No. 16 High Street, St Giles. This print is the most interesting of the two, being executed in a style which so different from that of Newman’s other works that it could almost be by a different hand altogether. Although the print is a lithograph, it has been etched in the manner of a copperplate engraving and is made up of deep lines that have been hastily scored into the stone. There are also numerous spelling and engraving errors in the text which have not been corrected prior to publication. The overall impression is of an artist working at speed on a low-budget product which was bound for an audience drawn from the bottom end of the market for printed images.
- B.E. Maidment, ‘Subversive Supplements: Satirical Title Pages of the Periodical Press in the 1830s’, Victorian Periodicals Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, Periodical Supplements (2010), pp. 133-148 The remainder of W.W. Newman’s career is outlined in Jane E. Brown and Richard Samuel West, William Newman: A Victorian Cartoonist in London and New York (Easthampton, MA: Periodyssey Press, 2008).
- The plates could be the work of William Richard Newman (1797 – 1855), a lithographic engraver and printer whose workshop was located at 27 Widegate Street in the City of London. Newman was the son of a copperplate engraver, William Newman (1770 – 1827) who specialised in the production of trade cards, tickets and other ephemera and certainly possessed the technical skills required to produce the engravings published by Tregear and others during the mid-1830s. Newman traded under the name W. Newman, or Newman & Son. The business remained active under the latter name until the twentieth-century.
- It’s possible that further numbers were printed. The author’s collection includes a damaged print from which the masthead is missing but which resembles the other three numbers of The Odd Volume and carries Tregear’s publication line. Newman’s signature is also missing but it’s not possible to determine whether this is due to contemporary omission or subsequent wear.
- Newman signed Frontispiece to the “Law-List” as follows: “Designed & Lithographed by W. Newman. Author of the “Odd Volume”, “Female Emigration”, “Frontispiece to Useful Knowledge”, “Flights of Homour”, “Rum Jokes”, & c. & c.”.
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