- Also known as
primary name: Place, Francis
- individual; painter/draughtsman; printmaker; British; Male
- Life dates
- York amateur topographical draughtsman, etcher, mezzotinter and ceramicist. The basic research into Place's life has been conducted by Richard Tyler, and what follows is drawn from his catalogue Francis Place for an exhibition held at York and Kenwood in 1971. Reference is also made to the earlier study of Henry Hake, in which fourteen letters by, to or about Place are published.
He was born into a long-established family of landed gentry in county Durham. Being the younger son, he was sent to study law in London, which he did not find congenial. He had a talent for drawing, and found himself working with Hollar, copying the plates of the Dutch edition of Nieuhof's 'Embassy' for Ogilby's translation of 1669. In his letter to Vertue in 1716, which is one of the prime sources for Hollar's life, Place states that although they were intimately acquainted, he was never Hollar's disciple 'nor anyone else's, which was my misfortune' (I 34-5). The bulk of Place's plates were made to earn a living over the next six years, and many were published by Arthur Tooker.
Place had relatives in York, and from the mid 1670s he spent increasing amounts of time there, finding many congenial spirits, among them William Lodge who became a close friend. He began making topographical drawings (nearly 400 survive) on numerous sketching tours, and their number increased when in 1681 his father died, bequeathing him £500 and an annual income of £30. He divided his time during the 1680s between York and London, and during this decade made prints on occasion for his friend Pierce Tempest, another Yorkshireman from an old family, as well as scientific plates for Dr Lister and others.
In the early 1690s he concentrated his efforts on an abortive attempt to match Dwight's achievements in the improvement of pottery. His printmaking more or less ceased after his remarriage in 1693 to a widow whose wealth removed any need to earn any money. He settled in York, and continued making drawings for his own pleasure.
Hake's catalogue of 116 etchings and 23 mezzotints is incomplete, and needs to be redone. Place's rare mezzotints, of which none is included in this exhibition, raise particular problems. A Tavern scene after Brouwer (Tyler 117) has the address of John Overton at the White Horse in Little Britain, which was used from 1666-7 only, when Overton was forced to relocate temporarily after the Great Fire. This makes it the earliest English mezzotint after Rupert's. He was perhaps taught by the Prince, and so, like Sherwin, felt inhibited from exploiting the process commercially. This might explain why he made so few mezzotints and such a large number of etchings.
In later years, Place taught mezzotint to a few of his York friends, and there survive some plates by Sir Ralph Cole (Tyler 119) and George Lumley, a York schoolmaster and brother-in-law to a cousin of Ralph Thoresby, to whom Place gave his equipment (Tyler p.71).
- H.M. Hake, Walpole Society X 1921/2 pp.39-69, has biography and catalogue of his prints (223 nos)
Tyler, R.: Francis Place, York City Art Gallery, 1971 (most comprehensive biography until the following)
T. Moorman, 'Some newly discovered drawings by Francis Place', in Burlington Magazine, vol. 94, no. 591, 1952, pp. 159-161.
John Ingamells, 'York Minster and the Artist 1650-1850' in exh 'The Beautifullest Church, York Minster 1472-1972', York City Art Gallery, York, 1972, pp. 29-41
See the note by M.Hopkinson, 'Francis Place – The Hospitalfield collection', Print Quarterly, VIII, 1991, p. 63 on the exhibition by William Payne, Francis Place, 1647-1728: A changing vision of nature, 1990, drawing attention to the previously unknown manuscript catalogues of the collection. (exhibition held at Hospitalfield, Arbroath, from where many Place, Hollar and other drawings were sold earlier - see entry on Patrick Allan-Fraser).
K. Sloan, 'A Noble Art: Amateur Artists and Drawing Masters c.1600-1800', BM, 2000