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Spanish Armada off Plymouth Sound by John Pine

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Francis Drake engages the Spanish Armada off Plymouth

John Pine

John Pine
John Pine by William Hogarth

Born in London and spent his life there. Described as a cheerful, heavy-set man, he achieved remarkable success and recognition both in his career and socially, becoming London's finest heraldic and decorative engraver and producing numerous book illustrations.

In 1739 John Pine (1690–1756) published engravings of the ten Armada tapestries, together with his version of charts originally produced by Robert Adam (died 1595). In his introduction, Pine pointed to the tapestries’ national significance, describing the defeat of the Spanish Armada as, ‘the most glorious Victory that was ever obtained at Sea, and the most important to the British Nation’. The reason he gave for reproducing the tapestries was, ‘because time, or accident, or moths may deface these valuable shadows’. After the tapestries were lost in 1834, his engravings provided a unique and invaluable record.

Pine used the charts by Robert Adam, along with drawings of the central scenes in each tapestry by C. Lemprière, as source material. For the portrait heads of naval commanders in the decorative border, he worked from Hubert- Francois Gravelot’s (1699–1773) drawings. The border designs from the tapestries were closely copied in plates II, IV, VI, VIII and X. However in plates I, III, V, VII and IX Pine introduced a new border design, showing his skill working in the Tudor or later Rococo styles. He explained that this change was to add variety and to allow portraits of Sir Robert Carey, Sir Roger Townshend and Sir Thomas Gerard to be included.

A good friend of the artist William Hogarth, Pine was a fellow member of the Old Slaughter’s Coffee House on St Martin’s Lane. Together with colleagues they successfully petitioned Parliament to protect artists’ rights, resulting in the Engraving Copyright Act of 1735. Pine won a clause within it which gave him exclusive permission to reproduce the Armada tapestries. He cleverly waited until the Act was in place before proceeding with the project.

C. Lempriere a French draftsman. A ships captain, and apparently a self-taught artist, he drew views of Jersey in the Channel Islands and Lisbon which were published as engravings. He also worked with Hubert-François Gravelot on the drawings for the 16 plates published by John Pine as The Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords. In addition, he illustrated a series of naval battles engraved by William Henry Toms.

Hubert-François Gravelot, a French illustrator, engraver, painter and draftsman was born Bourguignon and adopted the name Gravelot as a young man.