Henry Clay, Japanner, and Artists in Birmingham
Henry Clay was an 18th century industrial pioneer who founded the japanning industry in Birmingham. Japanning was a process of varnishing and decorating a papier-mâché product. It created a shiny black surface, which was painted. The engraving representing the business shows a set of classical ruins and other images of Ancient Rome, including a vase with an image of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. Greek and Roman designs represented the highpoint of good taste. Several manufacturers including Matthew Boulton and Josiah Wedgwood created metalware and ceramic products derived from classical examples.
Linked to this image is an engraving of two adjacent canal locks containing barges, presumably representing the transportation of Henry Clay’s japanware from Birmingham. .
The lower portion of the advertisement lists fifteen Birmingham artists:
J Gregory Hancock
C Richards and Son
Above their names are several examples of the tools of their trade: an easel, an artist’s palette, ink, a magnifying glass, a sketch book, bust and finished portrait. Some of the named artists created the designs from which the engravings in Bisset’s Directory were made. These included Eginton, Hancock and Hollins.« Previous in this sectionNext in this section »