Contents and Arrangement

Letter 14, 1863 December 2

1 item

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Possibly the most important letter in the sequence. Five closely written pages in which Pye recalls his early work as an engraver, his first meeting with Turner, and of the work he did for him."The mention you made in your letter...of my engravings for Peacock's Pocket Book i.e. Polite Repository, has recalled to my mind my early connection with that work - its influence on my professional life - and also, the place it acquired in the History of British Book Embellishment; and knowing that you have a taste for collecting historical knowledge and also that no record has yet been made by me of the matter in question, I now proceed to jot down such features of that period of my life as are professional, and which your letter recalled to me. In 1809:10 the result of my professional endeavours was a commission given to me to engrave a plate for Mr. Turner's celebrated Picture of 'Pope's Villa'. At that time no engraving after Turner represented the aerial tints and magnitude of nature which characterised his work. When my endeavours had recorded on the plate the extent of my power and animated me with reverence for the learning and taste displayed by the painter in the picture, I proceeded to carry and submit to his judgment in all humility my humble effort. How well do I recollect knocking at the door of his house and his servant saying, in reply to my enquiry - 'He is not at Home' Yes! and how well do I recollect feeling on hearing this report, the sensation natural to a convict that has obtained a reprieve! Thus animated, a few days passed away, when Mr Turner called upon me - he was on Horseback (we were strangers to each other) he dismounted, stood beside me, and my listening ear heard him say say while looking with his Eagle Eye - 'You left a proof at my House for, a Plate you have engraved of my Picture of Pope's Villa. I have called to tell you that, I like it very much! Had I known any body in the country capable of producing such a work I would have had it done years ago - the only regret I have is that it is not larger'! This event established me as an engraver of landscape. From this time Turner always sought me to engrave ?(for) him: but engraving after Turner being with me matter of Sturdy, professional pride, and pleasure (all good things in their way) and being obliged to live by my profession, in 1813, I accepted a proposition made to me to engrave annually, Peacock's Polite Repository: and hence I engraved only occasionally after the great man for I saw around me among the engravers nothing better than genteel beggary, begging and pauperism!! Peacock's Polite Repository had, when I entered upon it, been some years before the world - there were other similar works published in London, but that had taken the lead and had a large sale and its popularity became so extreme that for many years previously to the introduction of engraving on steel, these sets of plates (copper) were requisite to supply the demand. This work preserved its vitality in spite of the more modern annuals and having outlived them and my necessities for further professional labour, I retired from it all at the close of 1858, having then engraved the plates for 1859, and having been professionally connected with it during forty-five years." Concluding with discussion of an unique set of proofs of the plates he had engraved for the magazine.

Collection History

Custodial History

By descent from T. H. Cromek. T. H. Cromek's daughter married John Warrington of Newland Hall, Wakefield. He was the father of Austin Warrington, whose son Paul Warrington inherited the Cromek archive and left the archive on his death to his wife, Jeanne Warrington, in 1992, who in turn left the archive to R. H. Cromek's great-great-great grandson Ian Warrington on her death in 2007, who sold the archive at Sothebys London in July 2008.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by John Delaney on April 6, 2009. Finding aid coded by John Delaney on April 7-8, 2009, based on the descriptions of John Hart and Chris Johnson.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Letter 14; Robert and Thomas Hartley Cromek papers, C1313, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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See Dennis M. Read's R. H. Cromek, Engraver, Editor, and Entrepreneur (Ashgate, 2011) for more information about Cromek and these papers.

Bewick, Thomas, 1753-1828
Cromek, R. H. (Robert Hartley), 1770-1812
Pye, John, 1782-1874