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 George Baxter  (1804 - 1867)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: portrait, figure, animal, and landscape painting-color printing

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
STUDY OF CRYSTAL PALACE
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

George Baxter was born in Lewes, Sussex.   His father was a publisher and bookseller, and Baxter worked in his the business with his father and learned woodcut printing and then devised an advanced method of color printing, with many more colors than previously used and application with machine rather than by hand.   The printing by machinery occurred, beginning 1828, through his father-in-law, Robert Harrild, a manufacturer of printing machinery who "was to assist his new son-in-law many times in his life, both financially and with loans and gifts of equipment."

In 1828, Baxter created his first color print - Butterflies, very few copies exist.  This print was followed in 1834 by a primitive seeming (by today's standards) of a frontispiece to a book, Mudie's British Birds.   The next year, Baxter, having made improvements, applied for a pattent, and that process involved a first time steel key plate printing "which gave the black outline and all the intricate detail and shading, then he would apply up to 20 different blocks made from either wood, copper or zinc - one for each color he wanted to apply. Each block had to align perfectly." This keyplate made all the difference and gave his images a sharp quality never before achieved."

Baxter was distinguished from other printers for spending many hours on his prints, engraving his own plates, and being a perfectionist about the results.  He used only the best materials and mixed his own color inks, which were oil based.  With each application, using hand operated printing presses, he applied wet paper to the inked key plate and then allowed a thorough drying.   This process was repeated over and over, with the paper re-dampened so it could be expanded to its original size to receive the next colored key plate.  When finished he applied a gloss.

Most of his early work was book illustrations of subjects including natural history, poetry and religion.  Then he realized that a buyer's market of individuals existed.  Among his customers was Prince Albert, which resulted in Baxter being invited to attend and then draw the coronation of Queen Victoria.  He also drew 'on-the-spot' christening of the Prince of Wales, and his watercolor drawing was exhibited at the Royal Academy, but was not made into a print.

In addition to these exclusive commissions, George Baxter created images that became prints for children's books, music sheets, handkerchief and needle boxes and playing cards.  He became so notable that e received an "honourable mention for printing at the Great Exhibition and later received Gold Medals from the Emperor of Austria in 1852, at the New York Exhibition 1853, The Paris Exhibition 1855 and from the King of Sweden in 1857. Between 1834 and 1860 he issued approximately 400 different prints."

However, his perfectionist methods meant he worked very slowly and was often behind in meeting deadlines.  Also, he was not a very acute businessperson.  In 1860, he became insolvent and had to sell his plant and auctioned off his stock of prints, numbering 141,106. 

By 1865, he was bankrupt, and two years later he died from injuries in a horse-drawn carriage accident.

Source:
http://www.georgebaxter.com/10420/info.php?p=2&pno=0                   

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