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William Holl the elder (1771-1838)

The Holl family of printmakers (ca.1800-1884) first gained notability with the engraver William Holl the elder (1771-1838). His prints were mainly carried out using the stipple technique and included a number of plates of portraits and statues reproduced from the works of contemporary artists.

He was one of the first engravers to try out the new mould of the steel plate for engraving banknotes in 1819. All four of his sons were apprenticed to him as engravers namely William Holl the younger (1807-1871), Charles  Holl (ca.1810-1882), Henry Benjamin Holl (1808-1884) and Francis Holl (1815-1884).

Frederick Christian Lewis (1779-1856)

Lewis was an etcher, aquatint and stipple engraver, and a landscape and portrait painter. He studied under J. 0. Stadler, and was a student at the Royal Academy . He was appointed engraver to George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria. He mainly engraved works by Sir Thomas Lawrence, until the artist died in 1830.

He painted landscapes, mainly of Devonshire scenery and published several volumes of plates depicting the Devonshire rivers between 1821 and 1843, as well as etchings of the Scenery of the Rivers of England and Wales 1845-7. As well as line and stipple engravings, some topographical aquatints (ca.1845) by Lewis are also present in the Library’s collections.

Daniel J. Pound (fl. 1842-1877)

He was primarily a portrait engraver and created most of his portraits by replicating photographs by John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813-1901). He became extremely skilled in this method of reproductive engraving.

Many of his portraits appeared in the series, ‘The Drawing Room Portrait Gallery of Eminent Personages’, in the Illustrated News of the World.

William Roos (1808-1878)

William Roos was a popular portrait painter and mezzotint engraver. He was born near Amlwch, North Wales, in 1808. Although he based himself in Wales, he spent periods of time in  London and frequently travelled in order to sustain his portrait work. He produced many portraits of the well-known Welsh individuals of his day, including John Elias, Christmas Evans and John Jones, 'Talhaiarn.'

His strengths lay in portrait oil painting and mezzotint engraving, but he also  produced landscape, still-life and watercolour paintings. He painted some historical landscapes for Eisteddfod competitions and his paintings of ‘The Death of Owen Glyndwr’ and ‘The Death of Captain Wynn at Alma’ were awarded prizes at the Llangollen Eisteddfod in 1858.

George Vertue (1684-1756)

George Vertue, engraver and antiquary, was born in London in 1684. He first trained  under an unknown French engraver (c.1698-1701), after which he was apprenticed to Michael van der Gucht (1600-1725) until 1709. He then set himself up as an independent engraver, producing a wide range of work, notably reproductions of portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller.

In 1717 he was appointed engraver to the Society of Antiquaries, contributing to its Vetusta monumenta. By the mid 1730s he was considered to be one of the best reproductive engravers. A number of his engravings were made after portraits and tomb effigies of historical persons. Examples of such work included his series of nine ‘Historical Prints’ from paintings of the Tudor period, and portrait engravings for The heads of illustrious persons of Great Britain (London, 1747), a collaborative effort with the engraver Jacobus Houbraken.

Vertue was well known for his enthusiastic participation in the artists’ clubs and private academies of the day. He also enjoyed a reputation as an antiquary, having a strong interest in the artistic and cultural history of Britain.


  • Hilary Chapman, ‘Holl family (per. c.1800-1884)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Hunnisett, Basil, 1989. An illustrated dictionary of British Steel engravers. Aldershot : Scolar Press.
  • Jones, Bedwyr Lewis, 1969. William Roos yr artist 1808-73. Anglesey Antiquarian Society and Field Club.
  • Rees, T. Mardy, 1912. Welsh painters, engravers, sculptors 1527-1911. Carnarvon : Welsh Pub. Co. ; Newport, Mon. : J.E. Southall.
  • Turner, Jane (ed.), 1996. The dictionary of art. Basingstoke : Macmillan.