William Austin

Mr. William Austin, Drawing Master of Brighton.
Mr. William Austin, Drawing Master of Brighton. 1809. Engraved portrait by James Godby after Edmund Scott. © The Trustees of the British Museum. 1867, 1214.589.

AUSTIN, William (fl.1756-1820) — London

Engraver, etcher, printseller, caricaturist and drawing master. Engraved Robert Morris, This plate of St. Georges parish, Hanover Square 1758. Also known for landscapes, views, bookplates, etc.
Apprenticed to George Bickham 2 (see BME 2011) on 16 Feb 1748 for a premium of £30. After working with Thomas Major (see BME 2011) and Gerard Vandergucht 2, he became a prominent London engraver and printseller. The map above was advertised as “with a view of the church and all the chapels belonging to the same, decorated with suitable borders, engraved by Austin, printseller in Great George-street, Hanover square, from the original Survey of Mr. Morris, which is in the vestry; and those gentlemen and ladies who chuse to send in their orders shall be waited on by the engraver; where all sorts of pictures and prints are framed and glazed, bought and sold, and every article relating to drawing performed. There being several ingenious gentlemen and ladies that would be fond to etch their own designs on copper, they may be taught by Austin, etcher and engraver, who has the honour to teach several of the nobility, gentry, &c” (Public Advertiser, 29 Mar 1758). He worked with Vandergucht until 1763, when he set up on his own at the Print Warehouse in Bond Street, advertising a stock of some 30,000 prints, drawing and etchings. In November 1767, he abandoned print-selling for teaching and caricature. He attracted considerable attention as a caricaturist — himself attacked in caricature by Matthias Darly (see BME 2011) — and running the Patriotick Print Rooms at St. James’s Street in 1785. He exhibited at Royal Academy in 1776, 1785 and 1786. In later life he concentrated on a second career as a drawing master. An 1807 insurance policy is in NA. He died 11 May and was buried at Brighton 17 May 1820, reportedly aged ninety-eight, although the date of his apprenticeship would suggest this to be an exaggeration. There is a collection of his political prints in the Bodleian (John Johnson).

Photograph of the trade-card of William Austin.
Photograph of the trade-card of William Austin. © Trustees of the British Museum. Heal, 59.3.

At the Golden Head, the last house on the left-hand side of Queens Square, Holborn — 1756
At the Golden Head, Great George Street, Hanover Square — 1758-1763
Print Warehouse, former Brawn’s Head Tavern, Bond Street — 1763-1767
Next Astley’s Amphitheatre, Surrey side of Westminster Bridge — 1768
Knightsbridge — 1776
Brighton and London — 1784
41 St. James’s Street — 1785
195 Piccadilly — 1786
197 Piccadilly — 1787
13, near Knightsbridge Chapel — 1791-1794
Great Russell Street, Brighton — 1807

Apprentices: Edmund Airey 1756 (£20). William Harvest 1757 (£39). Robert Stubbs 1761 (£52.10s).

BM. Bryan. Clayton. Exeter. Fincham. Grant. Graves (1901) (1905). Heal (TCE). Maxted (1977) (1983) (1984). NA. Ottley. ODNB

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