BEWICK, Thomas. The Wild Bull of Chillingham. Circa 1878
7.5 x 5.5 inches (16 x 13 inches in mount), original wood engraving on paper; fine.
This engraving, considered by Bewick to be his masterpiece, was originally made in 1789 for Marmaduke Tunstall of Wycliffe. "Its many and great excellencies have been the theme of all writers on the subject of wood-engraving in England, and more than justify the admiration of the Bewick Collector" - (Hugo). Not long after the first impression was made, the block was left out in sunlight and cracked: "Attempts were then made, and have since been repeated, to screw the block together and close up the cracks… In 1817 it was found necessary to remove the ornamental border and to screw an iron band round the block; while in 1878 it was again repaired and rebound with gun metal"(Pease). This copy would appear to be from this last impression, the fifth, as it lacks the single line border of the fourth state described by Joseph Crawhall. While the cracks are visible as faint lines across the engraving, this does not detract from the strength of the composition or the clarity of the image.