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Peer Reviewed

A Draft List of Published book and periodical contributions by Robert Seymour

Brian Maidment, University of Salford

Book and pamphlet illustration 1827-1834

In 1827 Seymour moved beyond wood engraving into etching and engraving as well as lithography, and began to illustrate a broad range of books and serials, working in both comic and more naturalistic idioms.
[5] 1827 ‘Piers Shafton’ [Herbert Trevelyan] Vagaries in Quest of the Wild and Whimsical [n.d.]. Heseltine in the ODNB cites this work as one of two early ventures by Seymour into etching but confusingly cites the book as Vagaries in Quest of the Wild and Wonderful by Piers Shafton Grafton.
[6] 1827 Herbert Trevelyan Snatches from Oblivion [n.d.]. The second volume cited by Heseltine as representing Seymour’s early etched work.
[7] 1828 Second Book of Lectures and Examinations for King’s College Students with the Inaugural Address of the Duke of Wellington (London: B Steill, 1828).  Steill published Pierce Egan’s novels in alliance with W. Strange and Sherwood and Jones, thus suggesting an interest in illustrated publications.
[8] 1827-1831 Richardson’s Minor Drama.

It seems more than likely that Seymour drew for one of the major sources of work for jobbing engravers in the late 1820s and 1830s – the series of engraved play-texts that served as mementoes of performances, offered texts for amateur performances, and provided a source of family entertainment. Most of these series used a wood engraving, caught between caricature and theatrical extravagance in idiom, as a frontispiece for the series, an image often claiming to be ‘taken from a performance’. Robert Cruikshank was particularly active in working in this format, but many of the images are unsigned. The only signed image by Seymour accompanying a play-text I have found is an image for The Mayor of Garrett (1831).
[9] 1829 Thomas Perronet Thompson The Catholic State Wagon from the Westminster Review – An Allegory (Cowie and Strange 1829). This 16 pp. pamphlet contains a woodcut by Seymour.
[10] 1830 The Odd Volume; or, Book of Variety: Illustrated by Two Odd Fellows, - Robert Seymour and Robert Cruikshank. The Engravings by Samuel Sladen. [William Kidd, 14 Chandos Street n.d. [1830]].

A sequel to Cruikshank at Home. The Preface declares that the ‘Engravings are the joint production of two clever artists – the one, Mr. Cruikshank, a long established favourite – the other, Mr. Seymour, a gentleman of far superior talent, but hitherto not quite, perhaps, so extensively known, in consequence of his short residence in London.’ The Preface also makes clear that the volume was intended as a fourth volume of Cruikshank at Home, but that the brothers had had a disagreement and fallen out with Kidd, and thus Seymour had been brought in.
Binding, The Odd Volume
[10 i] The Odd Volume
It was also stated that ‘Mr. Seymour will have the management of all future volumes – so far, at least, as relates to the Illustrations.’ The volume combines full page wood engravings with vignettes dropped into the text. Seymour has signed some of these – including the frontispiece [10 ii] – in the block. This volume marks the beginnings of Seymour’s extensive association with Kidd, a somewhat unscrupulous publisher who was producing a mass of guidebooks, textbooks and diverting literature mainly in small scale illustrated formats. Kidd became involved in a famous quarrel with George Cruikshank after ‘forgetting’ to specify which of the two brothers – the famous George and less well known Robert – had made illustrations for his publications. Nonetheless Seymour’s relationship with Kidd was an important one for the artist because the publisher was instrumental in defining and exploiting the market for small scale publications, often rather trivial in content, but which used comic wood engraved illustration to sell amusing but hardly substantial texts. The Odd Volume was reprinted, along with the third volume of Cruikshank at Home, by Henry Bohn in 1845. [10 vi] was re-used in Characteristic Sketches of Young Gentlemen [31].
See illustrations: [10 i] | [10 ii] | [10 iii] | [10 iv] | [10 v] | [10 vi] | [10 vii]
[11] 1830 anon. [Thomas Dibble Hervey?] The Devil’s Progress – A Poem (Lupton Rolfe 1830). A characteristic pamphlet ‘jeu d’esprit’ - a small size booklet with the text accompanied by small scale but highly finished wood engravings, both vignette and full page. [12] and [13] represent works produced in a similar idiom.
[12] n.d. [c.1830] Monsieur Nong-Tong-Paw Founded on a Song by the Late Charles Dibdin illustrated by ten wood engravings by Armstrong, Biggs and Walker from Designs by R. Seymour (J. Chappell).

A pamphlet of ‘facetiae’ apparently produced as a rival publication to a very similar illustrated pamphlet of the same poem published by Alfred Miller with Robert Cruikshank illustrations. The advert leaves in Chappell’s edition suggest that Seymour and Robert Cruikshank were at this time producing a mass of these short comic pamphlets for various opportunistic publishers, with Cruikshank later collecting these into the two volume Facetiae published by William Kidd in 1831. Chappell’s list suggests he was using both Cruikshank and Seymour to illustrate this rash of what were often called ‘jeux d’esprit’. The use of terms like ‘facetiae’ and ‘jeu d’esprit’ to describe such publications underlines their essential triviality, although the quality of the illustrations often transcends the undemanding comicality of the accompanying text.
[12 i]
[12 i] Monsieur Nong-Tong-Paw
Title page
See illustrations: [12 i] | [12 ii] | [12 iii]
[13] n.d. [c.1830/31] (F.Oldfield) A Trip to Richmond with eight wood-cut illustrations by Biggs, Dodd, Lee and Welch from Designs by R. Seymour. [J. Chappell]. [13 i] Advertised in [10], and clearly a companion piece to Cruikshank’s Trip to Greenwich.
A Trip To Richmond
[13 i] A Trip to Richmond
Title page
See illustrations: [13 i] | [13 ii]
[14] [1831] Kidd’s London Directory on a Novel Plan [W. Kidd, n.d.]

Four separate books bound up as a single volume, and illustrated by Seymour, Cruikshank and Bonner. See Cohn p.139 for a full description. The use of comic illustrators for such topographical publications is interesting, and suggests how far the genres of urban description had by this time become reliant on humour as a central mode of apprehending the city.
[15] 1831 Journal of a Landsman From Portsmouth to Lisbon (Thomas M’Clean 1831). 26 pp.

Seymour contributed 23 hand coloured lithographs to the copy of the book which is in the British Art Centre in New Haven. I have seen copies advertised on the web with slightly different numbers of plates. The plates are rather curiously signed ‘Seymour del’ but also have a symbol followed by ‘pinx’. It would be much more usual for lithographs just to have the artist both design and draw the plate. A few plates also have a ‘lith. Motte’ superscription. The text of the book is a straightforward picturesque travelogue written by an observing passenger on a voyage on a naval ship. Seymour’s illustrations, however, hover somewhere between the documentary and the comic. There are a surprising number of below deck scenes, usually taken from very high or strange angles, leading to disconcerting, rather out of perspective effects. The elaborate full page plates, with the images contained in decorative framing borders, are complemented by a number of vignette sized images which have been printed on separate sheets and then cut down and pasted in on the page alongside the text. This was clearly an expensive publication aimed at the library table of gentlemen with a somewhat slight text dignified by elaborate illustration. The use of pasted-in smaller illustrations alongside full page plates is interesting – and it forms some kind of acknowledgement of the wood engraved vignette as a kind of norm.
[16] The Comic Coronal; or Book of Merriment (William Kidd 1831).

A small sized volume issued in boards with paper labels which attempted to continue the form of [10]. The illustrations, largely full page wood engravings, are again by both Seymour and Robert Cruikshank. Although Kidd was sometimes less than honest about who had actually illustrated his publications,The Comic Coronalappears to be a genuine publication by these artists.
[17] 1832 The Pegasus and Harmonic Guide (H.A.Arliss 1832). 

Two wood engraved vignette illustrations in this interesting part-issue song-book are signed ‘RS’ [17 i – ii] though many are signed by W.C. W[alker ?]. I include a range of images to suggest something of the nature of the format and content of such publications. Song-books, usually issued in weekly parts with a vignette wood engraving on the front page of each issue, formed a crucial part of the emergent market-place for visual culture, and served to render the traditional woodcut of the broadside or ballad sheet into something more sophisticated and thus appropriate for more genteel or aspirational readers. I have seen a wide range of illustrated songbooks from the early 1830s, but this is the only one I have seen that contains signed illustrations by Seymour. However, given the exigencies of the market-place for wood engraving, he may well have drawn for other publications of this kind. Having worked with Arliss, a publisher who specialised in illustrated serial song books, on Arliss’s Magazine, it would not be surprising to find that Seymour had drawn for a range of his publications.
[17 iv]
[17 iv] The Cholera Morbus
The Pegasus and Harmonic Guide
See illustrations: [17 i] | [17 ii] | [17 iii] | [17 iv] | [17 v] | [17 vi]
[18] 1832 Lord Byron Canto XVII of Don Juan (James Gilbert, late W.Kidd 1832). Advertised in Figaro in London vol. 1, No.35 (August 4 1832) as ‘uniform with Mr. Murray’s new editions of Lord Byron’s works’, costing a shilling, and illustrated by Seymour.
[19] 1832 ‘The Great Unmentionable’ The Poetical March of Humbug (W.Strange? 1832).

Advertised in Figaro in London vol. 1, No.35 (August 4 1832). Described in the advertisement as containing ‘caricature imitations of the principal popular poets of the day (accompanied by light satirico-lyrico-biographico-critical notices) after the manner of “Rejected Addresses”, and with ‘Portrait Sketches…&c….by Seymour’. Seymour may have been re-using images from other published work in this shilling pamphlet.
[20] 1833 Richard Penn Maxims and Hints For an Angler: and Miseries of Fishing (John Murray 1833 – reprinted 1839 according to the Princeton catalogue). 12 lithographs, the second of which has been claimed as a source for Pickwick – as, of course, have other of Seymour’s images - see [27], [44] and [46].

The book is arranged in three sections – The Maxims and Hints for an Angler; The Miseries of Fishing; and Hints and Maxims for a Chess Player, and is structured like the Miseries of Human Life as a sequence of numbered short observations. The book is a small octavo in size, and very unassuming. Seymour’s illustrations are very linear little lithographs that look much like etchings. They have been printed on separate pages and then pasted into the book. There is a mildly satirical good humouredness about the images, which depict vaguely incompetent fishermen. The book forms an obvious forerunner to the Sketches, both in subject and in mode, and the etching/lithograph similarity furthers the connection. The most interesting image is the frontispiece which shows two men playing chess in the glow of a lamp, an image held in a kind of engraved bubble round the outside of which are arranged elements of fishing tackle and reeds. The image links the outdoor pleasures of fishing with the quiet indoor pleasures of chess. This formal structure is used again in the title pages to the Sketches. Seymour is not given credit on the title page, or indeed anywhere in the text, as the book’s illustrator, but all the illustrations are signed in the plate. In addition to the lithographed plates there are three wood engraved vignettes on pp. 20, 24 and 37.