(b. 1739, Salford, d. 1813, London)
English engraver. He was placed by his father in a solicitor's office at Evesham, where he remained for two years. In 1760, he decided to abandon the legal profession and became a pupil of Robert Hancock, a line engraver at Worcester. In 1764 combined his artistic and antiquarian skills in a Survey of the City of Worcester, with 15 illustrations drawn by him and engraved by Hancock.
In 1765 he moved to London and began work as a mezzotint engraver, having taught himself the technicalities of this art, and quickly rose to a position in the front rank of British engravers. He became mezzotint engraver to George III in 1773 and an associate engraver of the Royal Academy the following year. For some forty years he followed his profession with the greatest success.
The exclusive right of engraving and publishing plates from the pictures in Dusseldorf gallery was granted him by the duke of Bavaria in 1789, but, after he had issued more than twenty of these plates, the siege of that city by the French put an end to this undertaking. Suffering serious financial loss, he was reduced to poverty. He took the post of keeper of the British Institution in 1805, and continued in this office for the remainder of his life.
Although he was very prolific, his work is of the highest quality, delicate and precise. He is particularly associated with Benjamin West and Joshua Reynolds and largely established his reputation with his engravings Regulus Returning to Carthage (1771; British Museum, London) and Hannibal Swearing Enmity to the Romans (1773; British Museum, London), both after West. During his career as an engraver he produced some four hundred plates after portraits by Reynolds, Romney, and other British artists, after the compositions of Benjamin West, and after pictures by Van Dyck, Rubens, Murillo, and other old masters. He was one of the first engravers to show how admirably mezzotint could be applied to the translation of pictorial compositions as well as portraits.