Charlton Nesbit was born in Swalwell in 1775 and became an
apprentice in 1790 to
Master Wood Engraver and Bewick's mentor - Ralph Beilby. He
completed his apprenticeship in 1797 (seven years!!). During
his apprenticeship he gained two premiums at the Society of
Arts, after which he moved to London where he established
his own extensive practice. He returned to Swalwell in 1815
and lived in the village until 1830 when he returned to
London. He died in Brompton (London) in 1838, and is buried
in the local cemetery there.
Although almost forgotten today, Nesbit was a master of his
craft and many of his engravings can still be viewed in some
of the books mentioned below. Although overshadowed by
Thomas Bewick, Nesbit ran a very successful business and his
name appears frequently wherever Thomas Bewick is mentioned.
He produced two vignettes which were used in the book
British Land Birds which was published shortly after the end
of his apprenticeship.
A Hovel before some Ruins
He has also been attributed to producing vignettes for Rabbie Burns' 'Tam O'Shanter and Souter (cobbler) Johnny'
published in 1830 (also shown below) and George Marshall's
'Epistle in Verse Between Cynthio and Leonora' - a journey
to and from the East Indies (SE Asia), published in
The Amity in Great Distress (Cynthio and Leonora)
contentious as Thomas Bewick also had this
vignette attributed to him. Bewick however, was known to use
the work of his apprentices under his own name so I am
sticking with our own Charleton Nesbit!!
During his time in London he produced illustrations for 'Hudibras'
and 'Shakespeare' literary works of Sir Egerton Bridges,
'Ackerman's Religious Emblems' , 'Northcote's Fables' and
inter alia, engravings for a Cinderella book in 1808 (see
(Image; Tam O Shanter & Souter (cobbler) Johnny)
In 1799 he engraved a large cut, containing a view of St.
Nicholas' Church, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from a drawing by his
fellow apprentice, Robert Johnson. For this cut, which is
one of the largest that had ever been engraved in England,
Nesbitt received a medal from the Society for the
Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures. (Pic below)
Nesbitt's award winning
wood cutting of St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle.
the pictures from Nesbitt's cuttings for the 1808 edition of 'The Glass Slipper',
better known today as 'Cinderella'
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