Engraver and Illustrator William Alfred Delamotte (1775-1863)
William Alfred Delamotte, who was born in Weymouth in 1775, the son of a French refugee, won early recognition as a draughtsman of great technical precision. For his remarkable drawings he received the patronage of no less a visitor to the Dorset seaport than His Majesty, King George III. At the age of eighteen he exhibited several paintings at the Royal Academy in London, and then the next year registered at the Royal Academy Schools. Altghough he studied here under one of the greatest historical painters of the age, Benjamin West, another of the King's protégés and President of the Royal Academy, Delamotte preferred doing architectural studies and landscapes, the two chief types of wood-engravings among his illustrations for William Harrison Ainsworth Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. After his studies at the Academy, he moved to Oxford, where he enjoyed sketching its stately colleges and churches. In 1803 he accepted the post of drawing-master at the recently established Royal Military College at Sandhurst, a position that he held for forty years. Just towards the end of his employment there, aged 58, he accepted the Ainsworth commission to provide the kinds of wood-engravings that George Cruikshank had provided for The Tower of London in 1840. Here he deployed his considerable skill as a sketch-artist, wood-engraver, print-maker and lithographer, designing a hundred plates generally dropped right into the letterpress. He died in retirement, in Oxford, in 1863, aged eighty-eight.
Although Delamotte'seighty-seven woodcut illustrations amply describe the Home Park, the Great Park, and the Castle's architectural features, he shows very little of the town of Windsor as it must have appeared in the summer months of 1842. However, he does depict in three full-page engravings a plan for the 5,000-acre Windsor Great Park as it probably looked in 1529, as well as two plan views of Windsor Castle, as it must have looked in 1530, and as it appeared to him in 1843.The three-volume edition of 1843 contained only three of the steel etchings by Cruikshank, with one serving as the frontispiece; however, the serialised version in Ainsworth's Magazine contained all of the Tony Johannot, Cruikshank, and Delamotte illustrations. During the initial volume publication of the novel, over 30,000 copies were sold, and the work was in high demand, despite the fact that the triple-decker contains only three illustrations. The single-volume edition of 1844, however, contains all of the Delamotte, Johannot, and Cruikshank plates.
Ainsworth instructed Delamotte as to precisely the kinds of sketches he wanted executed for Windsor Castle in a letter: I shall be glad to see you to a family dinner at half-past three o'clock to-morrow — Sunday. Bring your sketch-books with you . . . . Remind Mr. Costello, when you see him, to get the order from Lady Mary Fox for her apartments at Windsor. You had better go down to Hampton Court and sketch Will Sommers, and some of the other figures in the old pictures of Henry the Eighth's time, carefully" (quoted in Ellis, pp. 57–58).
"Ainsworth, William Harrison." http://biography.com [accessed 18December 2017].
Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Routledge, 1880. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.
Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Methuen, 1903. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.
Carver, Stephen. The Life and Works of the Lancashire Novelist William Harrison Ainsworth, 1805–1882. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003.
Delamotte, William Alfred, and Charles Ollier. Original views of Oxford, its colleges, chapels, and gardens.London, T. Boys, 1843.
Ellis, S. M. William Harrison Ainsworth and His Friends. Vol II. London: Garland Publishing, 1979.
Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.
Vann, J. Don. "Windsor Castle in Ainsworth's Magazine, June 1842-June 1843." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985. P. 23.
Last modified 18December 2017