That Bewick did right in returning to Newcastle there cannot be any doubt. In the metropolis he would have been a spoiled countryman, and never a thorough Londoner. The eternal fitness of things declared that Bewick should be an exponent of nature, and this at a time when Turner was only an infant, and Mr. Ruskin and the pre-Raphaelites in the far-off future. Bewick was forced to leave London; none of his thoughts harmonized with it, nor were his manners its manners. Nothing else could be done but leave, so in the warm month of June, 1777, he bade the capital farewell, and on the 22nd of the same month he again arrived in Newcastle. He had been away for nearly nine months, and he returned to his native place, not to leave it for many a day. [60]

Bewick must also have known that it was better for his art that he should have taken apprentice-pupils. Had he worked entirely alone, much, perhaps most, of his experience would have been lost. It is a truism to say that in imparting knowledge to his pupils he greatly increased his influence and powerforgood. His apprentices did not all become great or known men, but Clennell, Johnson, Nesbit, and Harvey, with several others, were artists who, in their various lines, acknowledged, and through their works showed, the strong influence Bewick possessed over them. It is possible that Bewick personally might have had more freedom from worry and trouble of various kinds if he never had had apprentices, but there cannot be a shadow of a doubt it was better for his art, and for succeeding generations, that he allowed his attainments to be a special example for others while they were yet forming their style, and with his precepts of experience guided their taste and skill. [63]


Thomson, David Croal. The Life and Works of Thomas Bewick being an Account of His Career and Acivements in Art with a Notice of the Works of John Bewick. London: The Art-Journal, 1882. Smithsonian Libraries site. Web. 19 September 2014.

Last modified 20 September 2014