Peter Perez Burdett - Biography - Liverpool

Liverpool

In 1768, Burdett moved from Derby to Liverpool to create a map for Lancashire as he had successfully done for Derbyshire. He obtained new patrons and assisted George Perry on his map and history of Liverpool. Burdett created drawings and wrote descriptions of major buildings for Perry's history of 1773.

Burdett was so successful at identifying and exploiting his new contacts that he invited his friend, Wright, to join him in Liverpool. This was a successful move for Wright too and he quickly received commissions from the local gentry and merchants, however it was Burdett who founded a Society of Artists in 1769 in Liverpool and became its first president. Academy by Lamplight, a 1768-69 painting by Joseph Wright of Derby is thought to be of Burdett's academy.

The first British aquatint artist is thought to be Burdett, who exhibited these first aquatints in 1772. Burdett brushed acid direct on to an aquatint ground, only using varnish to stop-off large areas of a single tone. His technique appears to have been novel and was different from early methods developed in France. Burdett published a first aquatint based on an image by John Hamilton Mortimer, but he eventually sold the process to another cartographer, Paul Sandby. Burdett also developed a process for transferring aquatint to pottery; it was not a success.

Burdett learnt his aquatint technique from J.B. Le Prince of Paris. He showed two plates at the Society of Arts Exhibition of 1772, An Etching in imitation of a Wash Drawing and An Etching from a design of Mr. Mortimer. In 1773 he exhibited a plate entitled The effect of a stained drawing attempted by printing from a plate wrought chemically, without the use of any instrument of sculpture. There are extant three known images by Burdett, Banditti Terrifying Fishermen of 1771 and Skeleton on a Rocky Shore, both after the painter J.H. Mortimer, and Two Boys Blowing a Bladder by Candle-light after Wright of Derby. A copy of the latter in Liverpool Public Library bears on its back the inscription “First Speciman of aquatinta invented in Liverpool by P.P. Burdett, 1774, assisted by Mr. S. Chubbard.”

The artist Paul Sandby learnt the basic techniques of aquatint from the Hon. Charles Greville, who himself had purchased the knowledge either from Burdett or from Le Prince. It appears that Greville had received incomplete information, and Sandby found it difficult to produce a plate by Le Prince's method of sifting the rosin over the surface. He discovered that by dissolving the rosin and floating it on the copper a better effect was obtained.

Benjamin Franklin wrote to Burdett on the 21st August 1773 “I should be glad to be inform’d where I can see some example of the new Art you mention of printing in Imitation of Paintings. It must be a most valuable Discovery: but more likely to meet with adequate Encouragement on this side the water than on ours.”

In 1771 he produced 'A Chart for the Harbour of Liverpool’. and in 1772 Survey of the County Palatine of Chester.

Read more about this topic:  Peter Perez Burdett, Biography

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