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engraving of William Faithorne by Alexander Bannermann, c. 1760
Frontispiece, 1657, William Faithorne Victoria and Albert Museum no. E.949-1960

William Faithorne, often "the Elder" (1616 – 13 May 1691), was an English painter and engraver.


Faithorne was born in London and was apprenticed to William Peake.[1] On the outbreak of the Civil War Faithorne accompanied his master into the king's service, and being made prisoner at Basing House, he was confined for some time to Aldersgate, where, however, he was permitted to follow his profession of engraver, and among other portraits did a small one of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham.[2]

At the earnest solicitation of his friends Faithorne very soon regained his liberty, but only on condition of retiring to France, where he received instruction from Robert Nanteuil. He was permitted to return to England in about 1650, and took a shop near Temple Bar, where, besides his work as an engraver, he carried on a large business as a print-seller.[2]

In 1680 Faithorne gave up his shop and retired to a house in Blackfriars, occupying himself chiefly in painting portraits from the life in crayons, although still occasionally engaged in engraving. It is said that his life was shortened by the misfortunes, dissipation, and early death of his son William.[2] He was buried in the church of St Ann Blackfriars on 13 May 1691.[3]


Faithorne is especially noted as a portrait engraver, his subjects including Sir Henry Spelman, Oliver Cromwell, Henry Somerset, Marquis of Worcester, John Milton, Queen Catherine, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Cardinal Richelieu, Sir Thomas Fairfax, Thomas Hobbes, Richard Hooker, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Charles I. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, his engravings were "remarkable for their combination of freedom and strength with softness and delicacy", adding that "his crayon paintings unite to these the additional quality of clear and brilliant colouring".[2]

In 1658 Faithorne engraved a large map of London which had been drawn by the Somerset landowner Richard Newcourt.[4] Printed on four sheets, it provides important evidence for the geography of the city before the Great Fire.[5] In 1662 he issued a translation of Abraham Bosse's treatise, under the title of The art of graveing and etching, wherein is exprest the true way of graveing in copper. Also the manner and method of ... Callot and Mr. Bosse in their severall ways of etching.


Faithorne's son, William Faithorne the younger (1656–1686), was a promising mezzotint engraver, but became idle and dissipated, and involved his father in financial difficulties.[2][a]


  1. ^ The best account of the Faithornes is that contained in Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting. A life of Faithorne the elder is preserved in the British Museum among the papers of John Bagford, librarian to Robert,Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, and an intimate friend of Faithorne (Chisholm 1911).


  1. ^ "Anthony Griffiths". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/60973. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d e Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ Strutt 1786, p. 283.
  4. ^ Cust, Lionel Henry (1894). "Newcourt, Richard (d.1679)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 40. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  5. ^ Waller, I.G. (1858). "Maps of London, Seventeenth Century. Faithorne". The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. 205: 373 et seq.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Faithorne, William". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 136.
  • Strutt, Joseph (1786). A Biographical Dictionary Containing All the Engravers, From the Earliest Period of the Art of Engraving to the Present Day. Vol. 2. London: Robert Faulder.

External links

5 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

L&M: William Faithorne, sen., draughtsman, engraver and print seller, from whom Pepys later made many purchases.

Wheatley: William Faithorne the elder, engraver and portrait painter, born in London in 1616. On the outbreak of the Civil War he took up arms for the King, and was confined for a time in Aldersgate as a prisoner of war. He was banished for refusing to take the oath to Oliver Cromwell, but obtained permission to return to England in 1650, when he settled at the sign of the Drake, outside Temple Bar. About 1680 he went to Printing House Yard, Blackfriars, and died May 1691.

vicenzo  •  Link

from JWB Look at this Faithorne:

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

FAITHORNE (William), an ingenious English painter, that flourished in the 17th century. After the civil wars broke out, he went into the army; when being taken prisoner in Basinghouse, and refusing to take the oaths to Oliver, he was banished into France. He studied several years under the famous Champagne, and arrived to very great perfection in correctness of drawing. He was also a great proficient in graving, as likewise in painting, especially in miniature, of which there are many specimens now extant in England. He died in Black-Friars in 1691, when he was near 75 years of age. He wrote a book, "Upon Drawing, Graving, and Etching," for which he was celebrated by his friend Flatman the poet. William Faithorne the son, who performed chiefly in mezzotinto, has often been consounded with his father.
---A New and general biographical dictionary. 1795.

Bill  •  Link

FAITHORNE, WILLIAM, the elder (1616-1691), engraver and portrait-painter; banished for refusing to take the oath to Oliver Cromwell; allowed to return to England, 1650; print-seller in London; executed crayon portraits; engraved frontispieces and prints, also two maps, one of London and Westminster, the other of Virginia and Maryland.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Maps of Old London/Faithorne…
Virginia and Maryland as it is planted and inhabited this present year 1670…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I wonder how many members attended this meeting of the Royal Society? I bet it was a packed house, or Pepys and Evelyn might remember seeing each other.

And poor Brouncker. Nothing worse than having to make a speech when you're no good at doing that.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



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