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Allegories of the Arts & Sciences


Prints from Encyclopaedia Londinensis or, Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature. London: J. Adlard, 1810-1829. Ca. 10 x 7. Stipple engravings with some line work, by J. Chapman except as noted. Hand color. All in very good condition, unless otherwise noted.

In the era of Enlightenment, books of knowledge, like Encyclopaedia Londinensis, took on a new importance and nobility in the scope of book publishing. Organized by printer, bookseller, and stationer John Wilkes (1750-1810, of Milland House, Sussex), the detailed, informative work reflects his experience as a newspaper proprietor and co-head of the British Directory Office. Fine artists like Richard Corbould were employed to draw allegorical prints to embellish the volumes. Though Wilkes died in 1810, publication of the Encyclopaedia continued until around 1829 in London. Exalting the pursuit of knowledge, its allegorical prints draw on neo-Classical vocabulary to confer nobility on the studies of the arts and sciences, such as geography, botany, painting, and others. In classically-draped garments, female figures pose amid Roman architecture and artifact, employing the tools of investigation specific to their discipline. Along with its finely-rendered botanical illustrations, scientific diagrams, and detailed maps, these allegories made Encyclopaedia Londinensis an extraordinary work of aesthetics and education.


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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Last updated July 13, 2021