|George Vertue after J Chalmers
|London, Printed for Bernard Lintot, between the Temple Gates. MDCCXXI. 
|Image 147 x 119 mm, Plate 152 x 115 mm, Sheet 387 x 238 mm
A portrait of the Shipman on horseback riding to the left, wearing a plane dark tunic, a hat, and a sword, the landscape in the distance, from John Urry's The Work's of Chaucer. This edition of Chaucer's works was started in 1711 by Urry but he died half way through the project in 1715 when it was taken up by Thomas Ainsworth and ultimately finished by Timothy Thomas. It w/as designed to be a deluxe edition that included three previously unpublished works, gathered other's commentary on Chaucer's works in addition to Urry's new commentary and alterations to the text. The book was illustrated with 30 plates including a portrait of John Urry, three of Chaucer, a view of the pilgrims leaving the Tabard Inn, and 26 individual portraits of the pilgrims on horseback. Each portrait, except for Sir Thopas, whose portrait appears with a note explaining where it should have been placed, appear the start of each tale.
In his 2006 article about the engravings included in Urry's Chaucer, Stephen R. Reimer asserts that the engravings and designs for them were executed by George Vertue. Only the portraits of Chaucer and the portrait of Urry at the front of the book are engraved with the names of the artists the first by Vertue and the later by Nicolas Pigne. The British Musuem does have a set of drawings by J Chalmers of the designs engraved for Urry's Chaucer. These drawings were owned by George Vertue. It is therefor likely that Vertue based his engravings on the drawings by Chalmers although Chalmers is not mentioned in the frontis or introduction.
George Vertue (1684-1756) was an antiquary and engraver. He was born in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Vertue was apprenticed to a silver engraver and later to the Flemish engraver Michael Vandergucht. His early work included plates after Kneller, whose academy he attended from 1711. Vertue had a deep interest in antiquarian research, and much of his work was devoted to the subject. He also served as the official engraver to the Society of Antiquaries (1717-56). From 1713 onwards, Vertue dedicated his research to the details of the history of British art, which resulted in an extensive collection of notebooks now in the British Library. The contents of these notebooks were the basis of Horace Walpole's 1762 'Anecdotes of Painting'. There are approximately five hundred portraits attributed to Vertue, and an equivalent number of published plates devoted to antiquarian subjects.
J Chalmers (fl. c. 1720s) book illustrator known only by his signature on his drawings, possibly Scottish.
Reference: Reimer, Stephen R. "The Urry Chaucer and George Vertue." The Chaucer Review. Vol. 41, No. 1 (2006) Penn State Univerity Press, pp. 105-109.
Condition: On full sheet with text, overall time toning to sheet.