A Scene in an Historical Play exhibited on the Chinese Stage

  • About the work
    Country: China
    City: Beijing
    Place: British Embassy
  • About the artist
    James Heath was born in London; the son of a bookbinder. In 1771 he was apprenticed to engraver J. Collyer the younger. He became a leading engraver in line, stipple and etching. He produced 100 prints after designs by T. Stothard for ‘Novelist’s Magazine’ and numerous works after contemporary artists, including R. Westall and R. Smirke. He also engraved plates for J. Boyell’s Shakespeare Gallery and for his own volumes of Shakespeare’s work. His son George became a serjeant-at-law, while Charles was also an engraver. In 1791 Heath became an associate of the Royal Academy. He was appointed Historical Engraver to George III in 1794 and served as such under successive monarchs. He amassed a considerable fortune before dying in London aged 77.
    William Alexander was born in Maidstone, Kent; the son of a coachbuilder. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1784 and may have trained under watercolourist Julius Caesar Ibbetson. He travelled to China as Junior Draughtsman in Lord Macartney's embassy of 1792 to 1794 and his drawings of the expedition were later engraved. In 1802 he became the first Master of Landscape Drawing at the Royal Military College in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He held an interest in medieval architecture and travelled throughout Britain, drawing churches and monuments. His drawings of Egyptian antiquities in the British Museum were engraved and published between 1805 and 1807. In 1808, he was appointed the Museum’s Assistant Keeper of Prints and Drawings.
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  • Details
    A Scene in an Historical Play exhibited on the Chinese Stage
    published 12 April 1796
    Purchased from Sotheby's, 29 May 1996
    GAC number