William Faithorne, Portrait Engraver: 1616-1691

R.T. Godfrey reflects on the nuances of Faithorne’s large range of prints, which were based both on his own drawings as well as the work of other artists.

In August 1689, John Evelyn wrote a letter to his friend Samuel Pepys in which he advised him against collecting painted portraits, and instead advocated with some eloquence the benefits and delights to be obtained from collecting engraved portraits:

But if, insteade of these, you think fit to add to your title-pages, in a distinct volume, the heads and effigies of such as I have enumerated, and of as many other as either in this or any other age have been famous for armes or arts, in “taille - douce”, and with very tollerable expense to be procur’d amongst the print-sellers, I would not reprove it; I am sure you would be infinitely delighted with the assembly, and some are so well done to the life, that they may stand in competition with the best paintings.

This were a cheape and so much a more usefull curiosity, as they seldome are without their names, ages, and elogics of the persons whose portraits they represent. I say you will be exceedingly pleased to contemplate the effigies of those who have made such a noise and bustle in the world, either by their madness and folly, or a more conspicuous figure by their wit and learning.’

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