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Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851) - Set of 14 Etchings, Popular Songs, Frontispiece



A set of 14 19th Century soft-ground etchings by the well-known artist Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851), from a publication entitled 'Illustrations to Popular Songs'. Published by 'Thomas McLean, Repository of Wit & Humour, 25 Haymarket, 1822'. Each etching is on wove laid to board.


The condition is typical for works of this age. Some surface marks, light foxing and discolouration to the pages. Light scuffing to the corners of the boards. With plate lines.


21.2 x 26.9cm (8.3" x 10.6")
Sheet: 25.7 x 30.4cm (10.1" x 12")

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Artist Biography

Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851) was an English painter and engraver chiefly known as a caricaturist and illustrator of sporting subjects and coaching scenes. His most prolific period of painting and drawing occurred between 1816 and 1831. He was the third son of Samuel Alken, a sporting artist. Two of his brothers were George and Samuel Alken the Younger, also an artist. Young Henry first studied under his father and then with the miniature painter John Thomas Barber Beaumont (1774-1841), also known as J.T. Barber. In 1801, Alken sent a miniature portrait of Miss Gubbins to the Royal Academy Exhibition. He exhibited a second miniature at the Royal Academy before abandoning miniature painting and taking on painting and illustrating. Early in his career, he painted sporting subjects under the name of 'Ben Tally-O'. Alken went on to father five children, of whom two were artists, Samuel Henry, also a sporting artist, known as Henry Alken junior, and Sefferien junior.

Alken worked in both oil and watercolor and was a skilled etcher. His earliest productions were published anonymously under the signature of 'Ben Tallyho', but in 1816 he issued 'The Beauties and Defects in the Figure of the Horse' comparatively delineated under his own name. From this date until about 1831, he produced many sets of etchings of sporting subjects, mostly coloured and sometimes humorous in character, the principal of which were: 'Humorous Specimens of Riding' (1821), 'Symptoms of being Amazed' (1822), 'Symptoms of being Amused' (1822), 'Flowers from Nature' (1823), 'A Touch at the Fine Arts' (1824), and 'Ideas' (1830). Besides these, he also published a series of books

Alken provided the plates picturing hunting, coaching, racing, and steeplechasing for The National Sports of Great Britain (London, 1821). Alken, known as an avid sportsman, is best remembered for his hunting prints, many of which he engraved himself until the late 1830s. He created prints for the leading sporting printsellers such as S. and J. Fuller, Thomas McLean, and Rudolph Ackermann, and often collaborated with his friend the sporting journalist Charles James Apperley (1779-1843), also known as Nimrod. Nimrod's Life of a Sportsman, with 32 etchings by Alken, was published by Ackermann in 1842. In many of his etchings, Alken explored the comic side of riding and satirized the foibles of aristocrats, much in the tradition of other early 19th century artists. A collection of his illustrations can be seen in the print department of the British Museum.
Alken died in April 1851 and was buried in Highgate cemetery. Although fairly affluent for most of his career, he fell on hard times towards the end of his life and was buried at his daughter's expense.

More Information
Code qy836
Artist Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851)
Date 19th Century
Dimensions 21.2 x 26.9cm
Medium Etching
Style Illustration Art
Subject Illustration
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