Portrait du missionnaire John Williams
Portrait du missionnaire John Williams
BAXTER, George

Portrait of the missionary John Williams

Size : 27,3, x 22,6 cm
Color : Coloris original
Condition : Très bon
Reference : 052

Fast delivery anywhere in the world
Guarantee of authenticity

A British missionary and Protestant, John Williams was a member of the London Missionary Society from 1816. He worked mainly in the Pacific with his wife, Mary Chawner. Having successfully completed several missions, the young missionary quickly became a reference in his field. Thanks to his many successes, he also developed a real expertise in this remote geographical area. However, his adventure ended tragically as he was killed and eaten on November 20, 1839 in Vanuatu. This terrible misadventure is not without reminding the fatal end of James Cook in 1779 in Hawai. These two incidents were widely echoed, and thus actively participated in the creation of a bloodthirsty and cannibalistic imaginary of the Pacific inhabitants

Created by George Baxter, famous for his color printing process, this portrait of John Williams shows him posing in a Victorian interior with a pen in hand, far from the islands where he preached. Looking pensive, the missionary is writing a text about his work. He is depicted seated, turned three-quarter, and staring at the viewer in an Albertan admonitory position that is typical of the great Western portrait tradition. In 2009, 170 years after the death of the Protestant preacher, a reconciliation ceremony was held at the site of the tragedy between the 18 descendants of the missionary and the islanders. As a result, the community of Erromango decided to rename Dillon's Bay to Williams Bay to honor the memory of John Williams.

Baxtertype print.

Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 564; David Saywell and Jacob Simon, National Portrait Gallery, London, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 665.
Ebenezer Prout, Life of John Williams, the Missionary of Polynesia, freely translated from the English work of Ebenezer Prout, Paris, Delay, 1848, 370 p.

BAXTER, George

George Baxter (1804-1867) was an English artist and printer based in London. He is credited with the invention of commercially viable color printing.

He was the son of printer John Baxter, and at the age of 20 he helped with the illustration of books to be printed by his father. At the age of 23, Baxter became an apprentice to Samuel Williams, a wood engraver in London. In 1827, Baxter started his own printing company where he developed and experimented with a new method of printing in color. His first color print was Butterflies in 1834 and in 1835 he was granted Patent No. 6916 - Improvements in Producing Colored Steel Plate, Copper Plate and other Impressions with a term of fourteen years. 

Baxter's method of producing colored impressions combined relief and intaglio printing methods. A "key" plate was prepared, usually in steel, using a combination of etching, stippling, etching and aquatint. Baxter also appears to have used mezzo-tinto and lithography to create his key plate on occasion. The key plate provided the main lines of the image and much of the tone, light and shadow. It was usually printed in a neutral tone, such as light gray or terra cotta. Often, Baxter used more than one color to ink the plate - for example, to make the image go from blue in the sky, to buff in the middle distance, and to a darker color in the foreground; that is, to ink the plate in a dolly [2] [3]. Typically, Baxter used aquatint for landscapes and stippling to work on faces and figures[4].

Despite the excellence of his processes and the popularity of his prints, Baxter was never a commercial success. He went bankrupt in 1865.

[1] McLean 1963: 30
[2] Seeley 1924: 25
[3] Gascoigne 1986: Section 29
[4] Lewis 1928: 199