John Boydell (Biographical details)

John Boydell (publisher/printer; printmaker; British; Male; 1719 - 1804)

Also known as

Boydell, John


1751-c.1768: Unicorn, West Corner of Queen Street, (no.69) Cheapside, London c.1768-1804: 90, the corner of Ironmonger Lane, Cheapside, London 1789-1804: Shakespeare Gallery, Pall-Mall (but retaining the shop in Cheapside)


The leading London print publisher; his international trade did much to establish British painting on a European basis. 1782 onwards, Alderman; 1790-1, Lord Mayor of London.
Major series of prints:
- "The Most Capital Paintings in England" (the first three volumes originally published under the title "Sculptura Britannica"): 1763-86, issued in parts and available bound up as volumes from 1769 onwards
- "Houghton Gallery": 1774-88, 162 prints after paintings in Robert Walpole's collection, sold in 1779 to Catherine the Great, see G. M. Rubinstein, "Richard Earlom (1743-1822) and Boydell's Houghton gallery", Print Quarterly, 8 (1991), pp.2-27
- "Shakespeare Gallery": 1786, proposals published in the press by John and Josiah Boydell and George Nicol for an edition of the works of Shakespeare by George Steevens, with typography by Bulmer, paper by Whatman, and one series of large horizontal (for an atlas folio volume) and another series of smaller vertical prints (to be bound in with the printed text), all taken from specially commissioned paintings; the Gallery opened in Pall Mall in 1789, prints appeared from 1792 onwards, and the edition of Shakespeare in 1802. For text see Oo.7.6; there are two series of the smaller plates intended for binding: J,29.1 to 97 is now disbound and distributed, while 1868,0822.3402 to 3545 is a sequence of variant proof states from the Slade bequest. The large plates, for the separate large folio, have scattered register numbers. For illustrations see A E Santaniello, "The Boydell Shakespeare Prints", 1979.


S.H.A.Bruntjen, JB, New York 1985