Wilson Online Reference
William Woollett, 1735-1785
Connection to Wilson
Biographical Details
English engraver apprenticed to John Tinney of Fleet Street, who also studied at the St Martin's Lane Academy. His first important plate was of Wilson's Destruction of the Children of Niobe, published by John Boydell in 1761. Woollett made the sum of £155, unprecedented for an engraver, from this, though Boydell himself made about £2,000. (Wilson's payment is unrecorded). Woollett followed up in 1763 with a companion engraving of Wilson's Phaethon. He continued to execute prints after Wilson including Celadon and Amelia (1766) and Ceyx and Alcyone (1769); also after other leading artists. In 1776 he engraved The Death of General Wolfe and in 1781 The Battle of La Hogue, both after Benjamin West. A member of the Incorporated Society of Artists, Woollett was for several years its secretary. In 1775 he was appointed Engraver-in-Ordinary to King George III.

Woollett's plates often combine the etching-needle with drypoint and the graver to show great richness and variety of execution. In his landscapes the rendering of water is a particularly strong point. His works rank among the great productions of the English school of engraving and were famous on both sides of the English Channel. Each took many months to perfect and Woollett is recorded as summoning his family to the landing outside his study on completion of a copper plate for three cheers. (M.T.S. Raimbach, ed., Memories and Recollections of the Late Abraham Raimbach, Engraver, 1943, p. 15 n.)

Bibliography: Louis Fagan, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Engraved Works of William oollett, London, 1885.
Significant institutions
St Martin's Lane Academy; Incorporated Society of Artists