1 Apprenticeship and early work 2 Process and techniques 3 Children's books
3.1 Walter Crane 3.2 Randolph Caldecott 3.3 Kate Greenaway
4 Later work and retirement 5 Additional Evans images 6 Detail of John Gilpin 7 References
7.1 Notes 7.2 Citations 7.3 Sources
8 Further reading 9 External links
Apprenticeship and early work
This 1853 title page for the Illustrated London Almanac is an example of Evans' engraving work. The illustration is designed by Myles Birket Foster.
Evans was born in Southwark, London, on 23 February 1826, to Henry and
Mary Evans. He attended school in Jamaica Row, where he enjoyed
mathematics but wished he had learned Latin. As a 13-year-old he
began work as a "reading boy" at the printing house of Samuel Bentley
in London in 1839. However, he was reassigned as a general errand
boy because his stutter interfered with his duties. The hours were
long—from seven in the morning until nine or ten at night—but the
printmaking process itself, and the books produced by the
establishment, fascinated Evans. Bentley soon realized the boy was
talented after seeing his early attempts at scratching illustrations
on slate, and arranged for Evans to begin an apprenticeship with
wood-engraver Ebenezer Landells.
Evans started with Landells in 1840. His duties included delivering
proofs of drawings to be approved by artists such as Edward Dalziel,
or authors such as Charles Dickens. A year later, Landells
launched Punch magazine, and as early as 1842 had Evans illustrate
covers for the new publication. Evans worked and became friends
with Myles Birket Foster, John Greenaway and George Dalziel. Foster
and Evans became lifelong friends. When Landells received a commission
Illustrated London News
Evans print from The Art Album (1861), showing the technique of reproducing a watercolour painting
When his apprenticeship ended in 1847, Evans, then 21, refused an
offer of employment from Landells, deciding instead to go into
business for himself as a wood-engraver and colour printer. In 1848
Evans engraved a title-page illustration, among other commissions, for
the Illustrated London News. However, the Illustrated London News
stopped employing him on the basis that his wood engraving was too
fine for newspaper work. His final print for the Illustrated London
News showed the four seasons, and was illustrated by Foster. In fact
Foster received his first commission from the publisher Ingram, Cook,
and Company to reproduce the four scenes in oil. In 1851, Ingram
chose Evans to engrave three prints for Ida Pfeiffer's Travels in the
Holy Land. He used three blocks for the work: the key-block, outlining
the illustration, was printed in a dark-brown hue; the other two were
in a buff colour and a grayish-blue colour. For the same firm, Evans
completed an order for a book-cover using bright reds and blues on
white paper. That year he received the first commission to print a
book, written by
"Death of the Kingmaker" from Chronicle of England, colour wood-engraving by Evans, illustration by James Doyle (1864). Evans used as many as ten colour blocks for the 80 prints in the volume.
In the mid-1850s, Evans and Foster visited Scotland to create sketches
for a series of guide books, which Evans printed. He later engraved
Foster's illustrations for Lady of the Lake, and Foster's
illustrations for The Poetical Works of
In Fairyland, a Series of Pictures from the Elf-World engraving, illustrated by Richard Doyle, coloured and printed in 1870 by Evans.
In the 1830s George Baxter repopularised colour relief printing, known as chromoxylography, by using a "background detail plate printed in aquatint intaglio, followed by colours printed in oil inks from relief plates—usually wood blocks". Evans followed the Baxter process, with the modification of using relief wood blocks only. For The Poems of Oliver Goldsmith, Evans created a facsimile of a watercolour, by superimposing colours with the use of separate colour blocks, one by one, to achieve the graduated colours of the original. First, Foster drew the illustration directly on the woodblocks that were to be cut, and he then recreated a coloured paper copy of the drawing. Evans, using the same pigments as Foster, grinding them himself, produced inks to match Foster's colours. The printing was done using a hand-press, with nine or ten print runs required for each illustration. For A Chronicle of England, Evans engraved prints dropped into the text at six-page intervals. Doyle drew the illustrations directly onto the wood blocks and created coloured proofs. Nine or ten wood blocks (colour blocks) were used for each of the 80 illustrations, which Evans again printed on a hand-press. The use of colour and the ability to create subtle tones are characteristic of Evans' skill as a colourist. His work was distinctive because of the characteristic quality of the wood engraving (carving) and his manner of limiting the use of ink to create a more striking result.
Crane's watercolour of the frontispiece for Baby's Bouquet to be engraved and printed by Evans.
Evans chromoxylography print of the shows a rationalisation of the colour scheme, without the dark tonalities and a more intensely patterned arrangement of the wallpaper motifs.
Evans' process involved a number of steps. First, the line drawing of
an illustration was photographed and printed onto block while the line
drawing was engraved. Proofs of the key block were coloured by the
illustrator; Evans would then "determine the sequencing and
register ... to arrive at a close reproduction of the
artist's original". Blocks were painted and engraved; one for each
colour. A proof of each colour block was made before a final proof
from the key block. Ideally, the proof would be a faithful
reproduction of the original drawing, but Evans believed a print was
never as good as a drawing. He took care to grind and mix his inks so
they closely emulated the original. Finally, each block was placed so
as to allow the individual colours to print on the page exactly as
intended. Aware of costs and printing efficiencies, he used as few
colours as possible. Illustrations were produced with a base of
black, along with one or two colours and a flesh tone for faces and
hands. In some cases, Evans may have used as few as four colour
blocks: likely black, flesh and two primary colours; the addition of
yellow allowed him a greater range. Each colour was printed from a
separately engraved block; there were often between five or ten
blocks. The chief problem was to maintain correct register,
achieved by placing small holes in precise positions on each block to
which the paper was pinned. If done correctly, the register of colours
match, although sometimes ink squash is visible along the edges of an
Often the artist drew the illustration in reverse, and directly onto a
block; in other cases the printer copied the illustration from a
drawing. After the 1860s, images could be photographically projected
onto the blocks, although it was more difficult for the printer to
carve the reliefs without leaving the distinctive lines of the
illustration. Books printed by Evans have been reproduced using
some of the original blocks which have "remained in continuous use for
over a century".[Note 1]
Critics regard Evans' most important work to be his prints of
children's books with from the latter part of the century with Walter
Crane, Kate Greenaway, and
Sing a Song of Sixpence
The concept of a picture book for children, with the art dominating
the text rather than illustrations supplementing the text, was an
invention of the mid-19th century. According to Judith Saltman of
the University of British Columbia, Evans' work as a printer of
children's picture-books is particularly notable; she believes he
printed the "most memorable body of illustrated books for children" in
the Victorian era, and the three illustrators, whose works he printed,
can be regarded as the "founders of the picture-book tradition in
English and American children's books". He considered full-colour
printing a technique well-suited to the simple illustrations in
children's books. Evans reacted against crudely coloured
children's book illustrations, which he believed could be beautiful
and inexpensive if the print run was large enough to maintain the
costs. In doing so, Evans hired Walter Crane,
Yellow is used to achieve a variety of hues, as in this full page illustration from A Baby's Opera, illustrated by Crane, and printed in 1878.
In 1863, Evans employed
Double spread engraving printed by Evans, illustrated by Caldecott from his The Diverting History of John Gilpin, (1887 edition) showing colour separation and stippling techniques
The pressure of such steady production caused Crane to stop his work
for a period, and Evans replaced him with Randolph Caldecott, whose
magazine illustrations he had seen and liked. Initially Evans
hired Caldecott to draw illustrations for nursery rhyme books,
beginning with another printing of The House that Jack Built in
1877. Evans proposed to fill each page with an illustration, which
were "often little more than outlines" to avoid the blank pages which
were customary in toy books of the period. In 1878 The Diverting
I agreed to run all the risks of engraving the key blocks which he drew on wood; after he finished colouring a proof I would furnish him, on drawing paper, I would engrave the blocks to be printed in as few colours as necessary ... the key block in dark brown, then a flesh tint for the faces, hands, and wherever it would bring the other colours as nearly as possible to his painted copy, a red, a blue, a yellow and a grey.
Beginning in 1878 through 1885, Caldecott illustrated two books a year
for Evans, and secured his reputation as an illustrator. The
books were released for the Christmas season, when sales would be
sufficient to warrant print runs as large as 100,000. Later, collected
editions of four works reprinted in a single volume were
published. Throughout the late 1870s, Evans and Caldecott
collaborated on 17 books, considered Caldecott's best, and to
have changed the "course of children's illustrated books".
Caldecott drew pen and ink illustrations on plain paper that were
photographed to wood. Evans "engraved in facsimile" the illustration
to the woodblock. Six blocks (one for each colour) were used to
create a multi-colour "image of extremely delicate quality".
Caldecott died of tuberculosis in 1886, and the following year
Evans printed a collection of his picture books, titled The Complete
Collection of Pictures & Songs.
Ruari McLean explains in the
introduction to Evans' Reminiscences, that as late as the 1960s
reprints of Caldecott's The House that Jack Built were "astonishingly,
still being printed from the plates made from the original wood-blocks
engraved by Edmund Evans".
In the late 1870s, Kate Greenaway—who spent her earlier career
illustrating greeting cards—persuaded her father, also in the
engraving business, to show Evans her poetry manuscript, Under the
Window. Evans invited her to Witley, and as he explains: "I was at
once fascinated by the originality of the drawings and the ideas of
the verse, so I at once purchased them." Evans believed her
illustrations to be commercially appealing and encouraged
After I had engraved the blocks and colour blocks, I printed the first edition of 20,000 copies, and was ridiculed by the publishers for risking such a large edition of a six-shilling book; but the edition sold before I could reprint another edition; in the meantime copies were sold at a premium. Reprinting kept on till 70,000 was reached.
"Susan Blue" by
Later work and retirement
Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, (1902)
Evans eventually converted to the three-colour printing technique.
In 1902 he used the "recently developed Hentschel three-colour
process", at Beatrix Potter's request, to print her watercolour
illustrations for her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Towards the end of his career, not all of his work was devoted to the
three-colour process; in 1902 he engraved and printed Old English
Songs and Dances for W. Graham Robertson, which was described as
"harmonious" and "delicate".
In 1892, Evans moved to
Additional Evans images
Using the same pigments as Foster, Evans ground the inks for the prints in The Poems of Oliver Goldsmith, published in 1859.
-->Evans used as many as ten colour blocks for the prints in A Chronicle of England, illustrated by James Doyle, and printed in 1864.
Caldecott's illustrations in The Fox Jumps Over the Parson's Gate (1883) show the subtle blend of colours Evans achieved with only a few colour blocks.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Detail of John Gilpin
Image from The Diverting History of John Gilpin
Detail showing vertical hatchings, a variety of ink colours, and stippling.
^ On page viii of The Caldecott Aesop: Twenty Fables : A
Facsimile of the 1883 Edition, a production note states that the
"majority of color plates were made from the first woodblock
renderings of Caldecott's work". The statement is not sufficiently
clear to indicate to what extent the original blocks were used,
however the cracks in the colour plates suggest that the original
blocks may in fact have been used.
^ "Edmund Evans, who had printed Richard Doyle's pictures for William
Allingham's poem In Fairyland in a range of subtle colours in 1870,
was the key figure to whom the trio of great illustrators of the end
of the century, Walter Crane,
^ a b c d e f g McLean, Evans
^ a b c Evans, pp. 4–7
^ a b c d Hardie, pp. 266–268
^ a b Evans, pp. 9–10
^ a b Spielmann Punch, pp. 445–446
^ Spielmann, Punch, p. 16
^ Evans, p. 14
^ a b c d Evans, pp. 20–26
^ a b Ray, p. 64
^ a b c d e Ray, p. 149
^ a b c d Crane, pp. 74–76
^ Evans, p. 30
^ a b Saltman, p. 211
^ Hildebrand, Ryan (2006). "Picture This: Five Centuries of Book
Illustration" (PDF). The UC Irvine Libraries. University of
California. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 January
2012. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
^ a b c d e f "Color Printing in the Nineteenth Century". University
of Delaware Library. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
^ a b c Pankow, p. 22
^ Spielmann, p. 56
^ Evans, pp. 41–42
^ a b Evans, p. 32
^ a b Hardie, p. 269
^ Ray, p. 90
^ Susina, p.233
^ a b Crane, pp. 178–180
^ Evans, p. 49
^ a b Lundin, "Victorian Horizons"
^ Gasgoigne, section 6.a
^ Hardie, p. 272
^ a b Ray, p. 150
^ a b Lundin, Sensational Designs, pp. 163–164
^ a b Spielmann, pp. 64–65
^ a b Alderson, 1989
^ Gasgoigne, section 23.c
^ a b Wellon, Arvon (2001). "Wood Engraving". The Cambridge Guide to
Children's Books in English. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved
^ Gasgoigne, section 68
^ Gasgoigne, section 6.c
^ Richardson, p. 33
^ Hunt, p. 164
^ a b c McNair, 1987
^ Hunt, p. 674
^ a b c d e f "
Alderson, Brian (1989). "Sendak & Co". The Lion and the Unicorns. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 13 (2). Bodmer, George (2003). "Victorian Illustrators and Their Critics". Children's Literature. 31 (1). Crane, Walter (1907). Walter Crane: An Artist's Reminiscence. New York: The Macmillan Company. Caldecott, Randolph; Caldecott, Alfred (1978). Aesop, ed. The Caldecott Aesop: twenty fables: a facsimile of the 1883 edition. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-12653-0. Evans, Edmund. Ruari McLean, ed. The Reminiscences of Edmund Evans, Wood Engraver and Colour Printer, 1826–1905. Oxford University Press, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-19-818126-2. Fraser, Adam; Banks, Tom (2004). Designer's Color Manual: The Complete Guide to Color Theory and Application. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-4210-5. Hardie, Martin (1906). English Coloured Books. New York: Putnam. Hegel, Claudette (2000). Newbery and Caldecott Trivia and More for Every Day of the Year. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 1-56308-830-4. Hunt, Peter; Sheila Ray (1996). International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-203-16812-7. Hunt, Peter; Dennis Butts (1995). Children's Literature: An Illustrated History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-212320-6. Gasgoigne, Bamber (1986). How to Identify Prints (1995 ed.). New York: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-23454-X. "Illustrated Books by Walter Crane" (PDF). National Gallery of Canada. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2010. Lear, Linda (2007). Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-37796-0. Lundin, Anne (2004). Beyond Ivory Towers and Library: Constructing the Canon of Children's Literature. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-8153-3841-4. Lundin, Anne (1996). "Sensational Designs: The Cultural Works of Kate Greenaway". In James McGavran. Literature and the Child: Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 0-87745-690-9. Lundin, Anne H. (1994). "Victorian Horizons: The Reception of Children's Books in England and America, 1880–1900". The Library Quarterly. The University of Chicago Press. 64 (1). McLean, Ruari (2004). "Evans, Edmund (1826–1905)". Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2010-06-11. McNair, John R. (1985). "Chromolithography and Color Woodblock: Handmaidens to Nineteenth-Century Children's Literature". Children's Literature Association Quarterly. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 11 (4). Pankow, David (2005). Tempting the palette: a survey of colour printing processes. Rochester, NY: Rochester Institute of Technology. ISBN 1-933360-00-3. Ray, Gordon Norton (1991). The Illustrator and the book in England from 1790 to 1914. New York: Dover. ISBN 0-486-26955-8. Richardson, Selma K. (Winter 1981). "Randolph Caldecott". Children's Literature Association Quarterly. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 6 (4). Saltman, Judith, ed. (1985). The Riverside Anthology of Children's Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-35773-X. Spielmann, M. H. (1905). Kate Greenaway. London: A and C Black. ISBN 1-4437-6122-2. Spielmann, M. H. (1895). The History of Punch. London: Cassell & Company. Susina, Jan (2000). "Dealing with Victorian Fairies". Children's Literature. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 28. Watson, Victor (2001). The Cambridge guide to children's books in English. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55064-5.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Edmund Evans.
Billington, Elizabeth T.; Caldecott, Randolph (1978). "Randolph Caldecott and Edmund Evans: A Partnership of Equals". The Randolph Caldecott treasury. London: F. Warne. ISBN 0-7232-6139-3. OVERTON, Jacquelin Marion (1946). "Edmund Evans, color-printer extraordinary". The Horn Book Magazine. 22: 109–18. Spencer, Isobel (1975). Walter Crane. Macmillan Publishing Company.
v t e
Victorian-era children's literature
Henry Cadwallader Adams R. M. Ballantyne Lucy Lyttelton Cameron Lewis Carroll Christabel Rose Coleridge Maria Edgeworth Evelyn Everett-Green Juliana Horatia Ewing Frederic W. Farrar G. E. Farrow Agnes Giberne Anna Maria Hall L. T. Meade G. A. Henty Frances Hodgson Burnett Thomas Hughes Richard Jefferies Charles Kingsley W. H. G. Kingston Rudyard Kipling Andrew Lang Frederick Marryat George MacDonald Mary Louisa Molesworth Kirk Munroe E. Nesbit Frances Mary Peard Beatrix Potter William Brighty Rands Talbot Baines Reed Elizabeth Missing Sewell Anna Sewell Mary Martha Sherwood Flora Annie Steel Robert Louis Stevenson Hesba Stretton Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna Charlotte Maria Tucker Charlotte Mary Yonge
Eleanor Vere Boyle
Thomas Dalziel (engraver)
H. H. Emmerson
List of 19th-century British children's literature titles
Marcus Ward & Co. Frederick Warne & Co
WorldCat Identities VIAF: 71519059 LCCN: n81059993 ISNI: 0000 0000 8392 8947 GND: 174205171 SUDOC: 085841579 BNF: cb149734685 (data) ULAN: 500023437 NLA: 35071074 NDL: 00920584 RKD: 273