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James Yorke

[Mathias; Matthew]

(fl c. 1740–early 1770s).

English engraver, draughtsman and drawing-master. In 1748 his premises faced Old Slaughter’s Coffee House in St Martin’s Lane, London, a favourite meeting-place for adherents of the new Rococo style. His earliest known satirical print, the Cricket Players of Europe, is dated 1741.

In 1751 he issued A New-book of Chinese, Gothic & Modern Chairs, a slight publication on eight leaves. Twelve examples with bizarre backs were described as ‘Hall Chairs’ in a reissue of 1766, but it is more likely they were intended for gardens and summer-houses. A shell-back chair (Stratford-on-Avon, Nash’s House) corresponding to one of the designs was made for the Chinese temple erected at Stratford for the Shakespeare jubilee organized by David Garrick in 1769. Five plates from a second book of chairs (c. 1751), of which no copy survives, were apparently reprinted in Robert Manwaring’s The Chair-maker’s Guide (1766). Described as ‘Parlour Chairs’, they incorporate extravagant C-scroll motifs in the backs....