Joseph Swain (1820-1909)

Joseph Swain was one of the most important wood engravers, second only to the Dalziel brothers in the quantity of his output in the late 19th Century. He was the son of an Oxford printer, the family moving to London when he was young. He was apprenticed to the wood engraver Whittock in 1834, and then worked for the eminent engraver Thomas Williams. Swain subsequently became the head of the engraving department at Punch, for which he worked until 1900; John Tenniel was one of his many admirers. Swain was also the main engraver for the Cornhill Magazine, and worked for the Illustrated London News, Good Words, and many books including a large number published by the Religious Tract Society. He also engraved illustrations by many of the Pre-Raphaelites. However, because of his great success, he employed many assistants, so that SWAIN S.c. on an engraving does not necessarily indicate the hand of the master. The largest collections of his original engravings are in the British Museum and in the Hartley Collection, Boston Museum.

Top of page

Illustration // Other artists

Home