Richard Earlom Biography

Richard Earlom




English mezzotint engraver Richard Earlom, was born in London on May 14, 1743. His natural faculty for art appears to have been first called into exercise by admiration for the lord mayors state coach, just decorated by Cipriani. He tried to copy the paintings, and was sent to study under Cipriani. He displayed great skill as a draughtsman, and at the same time acquired without assistance the art of engraving in mezzotint.

By 1764 Earlom was working for the London publisher and print dealer John Boydell (1719-1804), who published six reproductive prints by Earlom in 1766, three etchings and three combining etching and mezzotint. Boydell, then one of the most liberal promoters of the fine arts, hired Earlom to make a series of drawings from the pictures at Houghton Hall reproducing paintings in the collection formed by Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), known as “The Houghton Gallery” after Walpole’s Houghton Hall, and these drawings he afterwards engraved in mezzotint. He also created 300 plates after drawings by Claude Lorrain (1604-1682). They were published in 3 folio voumes, under the title of Liber Veritatis (1777-1819). Earlom also did other prints, his most perfect works as engraver are perhaps the fruit and flower pieces after the Dutch artists Van Os and Van Huysum.

Amongst his historical and figure subjects are Agrippina, after Benjamin West; Love in Bondage, after Guido Reni; the Royal Academy, the Embassy of Hyderbeck to meet Lord Cornwallis, and a Tiger Hunt, the last three after Zoffany; and Lord Heathfield, after Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Richard Earlom died in London on October 9, 1822. Over his long career he created some 540 mezzotints, etchings and engravings. Earlom died a prosperous man, leaving an estate worth some 14,000 pounds sterling.