Francis Barlow (Biographical details)

Francis Barlow (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; British; Male; c.1626 - 1704)

Also known as

Barlow, Francis


Painter, draughtsman and occasional etcher. The assertion that he was born in 1626 does not appear to be earlier than Samuel Redgrave's 'Dictionary of Artists of the English school' in 1874. Vertue says he came from Lincolnshire, and was apprenticed to the painter William Shepherd in London (II 135). His earliest dated work is a drawing of 1648 in the BM (Croft-Murray 1). In 1649 he etched a portrait of Princess Elizabeth as the frontispiece to Wace's translation of Electra. In March 1650 he entered the Painter-Stainer's Company together with Edmund Marmion and the painter Robert Walker, where he served a seven-year apprenticeship. He was principally a painter, but few of his canvases survive; but he was one of the finest English etchers of the century, as can be seen in his plates for Benlowe's 'Theophila' and his greatest achievement the 1666 edition of Aesop, which he illustrated and published himself. He also designed political satires, playing cards and sets of natural history plates. Most of these plates were etched by the leading figures of the day: Wenceslaus Hollar, Richard Gaywood, Jan Griffier, and Francis Place.
They fall into two main groups. The first are from the 1650s and early 1660s:
1. 1654 untitled series of 13 (later 18) plates by Hollar after Barlow, published by Stent (Globe 516)
2. c.1654 set of small plates 'Multae et diversae avium species' etched by Barlow himself; originally 12, apparently later 15 plates
3. 1663 set of 11 plates by Hollar 'Variae quadrupedum species per Fr.Barlow' (P.2080/9)
4. 1671 set of 12 plates 'Severall wayes of hunting, hawking and fishing' by Hollar (P.2028-40), published by Overton
The second group followed later in 1680-94, and seems to consist of one large and three medium-size sets commissioned by Pierce Tempest, etched by Place, Griffier and Kip. The contents of the three smaller sets is not clear, as no early sets have been found (there were numerous later editions renumbered, retitled and rearranged), and there are stray plates of the period that fit with no set.
5. 1686 untitled set of large bird studies dedicated to Lord Maitland, with 10, rising to 15, plates
6. Undated set of smaller animals, apparently 12 plates: 'Variae quadrupedum species accuratissime delineatae'
7. Undated set of smaller birds, apparently 12 plates: 'Divers species of birds drawn after the life in their natural attitudes'
8. 1694 set of birds and fowls, apparently 12 plates: 'Multae et diversae avium species variis formis ...'


Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Stuart Britain', p.140 (for further references)
Nathan Flis, Master Drawings, XLIX 2011, pp.479-532 (on drawings)
Nathan Flis and Michael Hunter, 'Francis Barlow, Painter of Bird & Beasts' exh., Clandon Park, May-July 2011.
Edward Hodnett, 'Francis Barlow: first master of English Book Illustration', London 1978