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John Boydell, 1720-1804
John Boydell, engraver in Cheapside, London and successful printseller, was apprenticed to William Harry Toms at Union Court, Holborn. In 1750, he published 28 engraved landscapes and the next year, having amassed a total capital of £150, purchased the freedom of the City in the Stationers' Company and took a shop. Boydell realised quickly that the main demand was for foreign prints so he determined to equip himself to deal internationally and got to know the leading Parisian printseller Pierre-François Basan. He was responsible for the publication of some of the most impressive paintings of the period, including a large number of Wilson prints. Boydell joined the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in 1760 and undertook publication of the paintings that won its major prizes. In October 1761, he commissioned William Woollett to engrave Wilson's E11 Destruction of the Children of Niobe, recently shown successfully at the Society of Artists. For this he paid an unprecedented sum of 100 guineas plus two later payments of £25 but was reputed to have made £2,000 for himself. The print sold well in France, a target market for Boydell, enabling him to import French prints in exchange and save himself currency. In January 1763 he announced a second print venture with Wilson and Woollett, a Phaeton requesting the Chariot of the Sun (E12). Thereafter he continued to publish Wilson's prints intermittently, notably the Twelve Original Views in Italy, Drawn by Richard Wilson in 1776 on which he employed Edward and Michael Angelo Rooker, James Gandon, William Hodges and Joseph Farington.
E11 William Woollett after Wilson Destruction of the Children of Niobe
Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce