- Museum number
- Series: Birch's Heads
Portrait of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, half-length directed to right, wearing a capuchon and a pen case hanging from a ribbon around his neck; in ornamental oval frame on a bracket; a lyre and scrolls below; unfinished state. 1741
Engraving with etching (frame)
- Production date
Height: 368 millimetres (trimmed)
Width: 234 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- After a painting held at the Public Library in Oxford, according to the inscription on the mezzotint by John Faber, see 1902,1011.978. For impressions of later states see also 1979,U.366, 1948,0315.2.76 and 1841,1211.78. This plate was engraved in Amsterdam.
This is the first from a series of portrait plates, engraved by Jacob Houbraken and George Vertue, illustrating famous British people from the time of King Edward III to contemporary figures. Initially issued in portfolios of four portraits from 1737 onwards, the portraits were subsequently published in Thomas Birch's compilation of biographies 'The Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, Engraved by Mr. Houbraken and Mr. Vertue, with their Lives and Characters by Thomas Birch, A.M.F.R.S.', published by John and Paul Knapton in London (1743-1752). The number of portraits included varied according to the different editions, mostly containing 108 plates but some editions up to 120 plates (each measuring roughly 360 x 225 mm).
Most plates were engraved by Houbraken and at least seven were made by Vertue. Hubert-François Gravelot was responsible for the ornamental surrounds which were engraved first.
The British Museum holds different states of these portraits: proof state before finished portrait, finished state with engraver's name and published state with publishers' address.
For a complete set, pasted in leather-bound albums, see 1868,0822.6642-6768.
Volume III in the series of three bound albums in the Faithorne Collection is described in Ver Huell's catalogue as follows:
"The History of England by Mr. Rapin de Thoyras. Continued from the Revolution to the Accession of King George II, by N. Tindal, M. A. Rector of Alverstoke in Hampshire and Chaplain to the Royal Hospital at Greenwich. Illustrated with the Heads of Kingd, Queens and several Eminent Persons; also with Maps, Medals, and other copper Plates. III Vol. London. Printed for John and Paul Knapton, at the Crown, in Ludgate Street. - 1744."
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: The Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, Engraved by Mr Houbraken and by Mr Vertue (London, 1743-1752)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The group of prints purchased from W B Tiffin, 1844,0511.1 to 21, cost a total of £94 2s 6d. Individual prices are entered when recorded.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number