An Essay upon Prints: Containing Remarks upon the Principles of Picturesque Beauty

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Clergyman, schoolmaster and writer on aesthetics, William Gilpin (1724-1804) is best known for his works on the picturesque. His approach as a teacher was enlightened: during his time as headmaster of Cheam School, his aim was to prepare his pupils for life. Moving in 1777 to become vicar of Boldre, Hampshire, where he remained for the rest of his life, he was able to endow two schools there with income from his successful writings. This knowledgeable appraisal of the print as an art form, and of its foremost practitioners, was first published anonymously in 1768 to positive reviews. It defines picturesque as 'a term expressive of that peculiar kind of beauty, which is agreeable in a picture'. Gilpin further developed and explored the concept in his volumes of Observations on various parts of Britain, which are also reissued in this series.