Thomas Bewick

Thomas Bewick Portrait

Thomas Bewick was an English wood engraver.

Regarded world wide as one of the finest wood engraving artists that has ever lived.

His engravings of birds, animals and scenes from the Northumberland countryside have delighted many generations.

Born in 1753, at Cherryburn house near the small village of Mickley, the son of a tenant farmer with an eight acre small holding. His lively often prankish boyhood spent in and around the countryside near the banks of the river Tyne.

At fourteen years of age Bewick was apprenticed with Ralph Beilby who ran a general engraving business in Newcastle upon Tyne. After seven years he left his master to work from home for local printers and publishers.

In the summer of 1776 he took himself on a five hundred mile walk from Newcastle to the highlands of Scotland thoroughly enjoying the sites and sounds of this country.
This was followed by a short nine month period in London which he did not enjoy. On his return to Newcastle he settled into a partnership with his previous master Ralph Beilby – this lasted twenty years.

Bewick was happily married at the age of thirty three. During this period he and Beilby saw the publication of, the General History of Quadrupeds and the History of British Birds. The latter sealing Bewick’s reputation forever with his awe inspiring work.

As John Audubon the great French-American ornithologist, naturalist and painter wrote after meeting Bewick ‘ My opinion of this remarkable man is, that he was purely a son of nature, to whom alone he owed nearly all that characterised him as an artist and a man.’