King's College London
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From woodcut to photograph: techniques of book illustration

Johnson's Journey from India

View of Mount Ararat, with two mountains set against cloudy skies, with people, animals and a house in the foreground. Illustrated using the aquatint techniqueView of Mount Ararat, illustrated using the aquatint techniqueThis view of Mount Ararat in Turkey was drawn by the author of the work, Lieutenant Colonel John Johnson.

Johnson was a British officer who spent 35 years in India before deciding to travel to England by land with his companion Captain Salter. Johnson published this account of their travels, documenting local life and customs along the route, and, with future travellers in mind, he included a list of his travel expenses from Bombay to London.

The plates were etched in aquatint by the watercolour painter and engraver Theodore Henry Adolphus Fielding (1781-1851). This particular plate is uncoloured and illustrates how similar the effect is to a watercolour wash.

The plate was bitten to varying degrees to stop-out areas of lighter tone for the snow-capped volcano and clouds in the background and to produce areas of darker tone for the shadows in the foreground and middle ground.

As the aquatint process creates tone only, etched lines were added to delineate the church and figures. Fielding was proficient in aquatint, stipple and line engraving and went on to publish a series of important books on painting and engraving.

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