An English engraver in St Petersburg

An English engraver in St Petersburg

3rd December 2021

Something a little seasonal: this mezzotint reproduces Bartolomé Esteban Murillo‘s Rest on the Flight to Egypt. It is the work of James Walker (1759–1822), who had been recruited to go to Russia in 1784, where he was appointed engraver to Catherine the Great.  ‘Walker’s principal task was to engrave important pictures by old and contemporary […]

The return of satire

The return of satire

18th November 2021

Sometimes, as a bookseller, you get the chance to buy back a book you have sold before. This happened to me just recently, and here is the book, a wonderful collection of caricatures of leading lights in contemporary Russian theatre, ballet, and opera, from 1916. I sold this copy in 2015 and have not seen […]

Advertising in Latin

Advertising in Latin

12th November 2021

Earlier this week, a tweet of mine received more attention than most: As well as the retweets, I even got a comment from Siemens themselves, saying this was the only time they’d ever produced anything in Latin (unsurprisingly, perhaps). Speyer Cathedral is the largest surviving Romanesque church in the world (and now a UNESCO World […]

The Little One

The Little One

5th November 2021

This is another post (one of a series) about pieces of music I have written. This week it’s the turn of The Little One, which I wrote back in 2009 for the Senior Choir of Dr Challoner’s High School, just up the road in Little Chalfont. It came about after the Choir of St John’s […]

Autumn blues

Autumn blues

20th October 2021

I’ve been dipping into a book by Franz Reitinger called Die blaue Epoche: reduktive Farbigkeit im Rokoko (2016), which explores the fashion, between about 1730 and 1765, for printing mezzotints using blue ink. It wasn’t something I’d really been aware of before, but I have always found the colour, Prussian blue, quite captivating. I only […]

Old books, new books (and new music)

Old books, new books (and new music)

14th October 2021

Attentive readers will have noticed that there was no blogpost last week. I was in York, teaching at YABS, the York Antiquarian Book Seminar: three-and-a-half days talking about books and bookselling to some wonderfully engaged students keen to know more. It’s always an enjoyable few days, and this year particularly so as going away to […]