Old Prints of Cambridge

Various old pictures of Cambridge can be found in antique shops, or purchased as modern prints. Many of the old copies are unfortunately created by cutting up old books, which are often worth more as a collection of frameable prints than as a bound volume. Here are listed some of the main artists active before 1850, in chronological order. Colleges, University buildings, churches, and civic buildings were all depicted.

Some artists, such as Loggan, produced sketches from which they then engraved plates in copper or steel. Others performed either the drawing or the engraving part of the process, so the final print was the work of two separate artists. Copper and steel plates produce black and white prints. These could be hand-coloured, which would add significantly to the cost of a printed volume. Sometimes prints are coloured by a later hand, and it can be hard to tell the difference between original and later colouring. The aquatint process used by Ackermann was able to print in colour. More modern reproductions may use rather different printing techniques, as is discussed separately.

Copper is a soft metal. Easy to engrave, but it wears with repeated inking and printing, losing quality and needing re-engraving after only about five hundred prints. Steel plates are much harder to engrave, but support finer lines and last many times longer. Before about 1820 copper predominates, and after about 1840 steel does.

If one must succumb to the temptation to cut illustrations from one of the books below, it is suggested that others may be less upset if one chooses a more modern volume. Conversely, if one chooses a volume sufficiently old to be out of copyright, then there is no need to cut at all, for one can copy with a camera or a scanner, and then one also has the possibility of enhancing or enlarging the image. One should also note that many originals are simply too small to be pleasing as wall art. They were meant to be viewed from the distance one views a reading book.

Some prints record past buildings since demolished.

David Loggan

Trinity College, Loggan

Trinity College, Loggan, Cantabrigia Illustrata (1690), reprinted 1905

Loggan produced bird's-eye views of Oxford, Cambridge, and Eton. These engravings were published in two works, Oxonia Illustrata in 1675, then Cantabrigia Illustrata in 1690. The thirty illustrations in the Cambridge work were drawn between 1676 and 1690, during which period Loggan resided mostly in London. Cantabrigia Illustrata was republished in 1905, with new text by JW Clark.

Loggan's prints have been re-used in many later works, such as The Architectural History of the University of Cambridge (1886), which was itself reprinted in 1988.

There is a discussion of some different versions of Loggan's depiction of St John's College.

Pieter van der Aa

The Dutch artist Pieter van der Aa produced the engravings in the French book Les Delices de la Grand Bretagne et de L'Irlande, published in eight volumes in 1707, then republished in 1727. Cambridge is to be found in the first volume.

The book was small, so the illustrations were on thin paper, and were folded across their centres to fit. The engravings themselves were based on Loggan's works, with any text in the title or key changed to French. The main advantage of van der Aa's versions is that originals are much more affordable. These derivatives of Loggan's work are not quite identical to the originals.

R & RB Harraden and Elizabeth Byrne

Sidney Sussex College, Harraden

Sidney Sussex College, Harraden (1809) reprinted in Cambridge University, an Episodical History (1926)

The 1809 publication Cantabrigia Depicta contains engravings from drawings by Richard Banks Harraden, son of Richard Harraden, the publisher. The engravers were Elizabeth Byrne, her sister Letitia, and Joseph Skelton. The book contains about thirty plates.

Richard Harraden (senior) also produced Costume of the Various Orders in the University of Cambridge (1805) which depicts the dress of various officials and degree holders, and I believe was generally hand-coloured immediately after printing. And he also produced Views of Cambridge drawn by Rd Harraden (1799), which contained just seven aquatint views.

Two of his engravings are reproduced in Arthur Gray's Cambridge University, an Episodical History (1926)

Old Schools, Greig

Old Schools (then King's College), Greig, History of the University and Colleges of Cambridge (1814)

John Greig

George Dyer's History of the University and Colleges of Cambridge (1814) contains several engravings by Greig. Unfortunately most copies are quite small in size. The one shown to the right is only just over 3" wide.

Greig lived for a while in London with James Storer (see below), and produced engravings of many British buildings and landscapes between about 1800 and 1830. He provided some of the illustrations for Storer's The Antiquarian Itinerary, comprising specimens of architecture, monastic, castellated, and domestic; with other vestiges of antiquity in Great Britain (1815).

The image of King's College shown may confuse some. At the start of the nineteenth century Old Schools consisted of a single court which was entered from the side facing Great St Mary's. The court behind it was the Old Court of King's College. This was sold to the University in November 1829, and the University then extended the gatehouse to a scale better fitting with its base.

Rudolph Ackermann, with Mackenzie, Pugin, Pyne and Westall

St John's College, Ackermann

St John's College, F Mackenzie, pub. Ackermann (1815), reprinted in Cambridge University, an Episodical History (1926)

Ruldoph Ackermann was a German who settled in London at the age of twenty-three, and there turned his talents to book publishing, being an early adopter of the aquatint process for printing coloured images. He produced The History of the University of Cambridge, published 1815, which contained many coloured aquatints of Cambridge. These coloured pictures, of which there are about sixty, have since been re-issued in many forms, including twenty, in 1951, as a Penguin book (which fails to do justice to the quality of the originals).

Ackermann was the publisher responsible, but he engaged Frederick Mackenzie, Augustus Pugin, William Henry Pyne and William Westall to produce the illustrations, just as he had done for his earlier history of Oxford. Most people associate only his name with the images, even though they were only published by him. Most were watercolours from the above artists, then engraved by others. Original editions of his 1815 publication can fetch well over £1,000 (2020).

Modern reprintings include Cambridge Depicted (2013) (Third Millenium Publishing), and Ackermann's Costumes of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (2016) (Burgon Society Historical Reprints). Nine of his pictures of Colleges appear in Cambridge University, an Episodical History (1926).

Trinity College, Storer

Trinity College, Storer (c. 1830), reprinted in Cambridge Described and Illustrated (1897)

James Sargant Storer and Henry Sargant Storer

James (1771 to 1853) and his son Henry (1795 to 1837) worked together and produced many engravings of Cambridge in the 1820s and 1830s. Four of these are re-used by Cambridge Described and Illustrated (1897). The Storers themselves published Delineations of Trinity College Cambridge in 1820, Collegiorum Portæ apud Cantabrigiam (College Gatehouses at Cambridge) in 1825 and Illustrations of Cambridge, a Series of Views of the Public Buildings of the University and Town in 1834, the last of these containing over forty prints.

John Le Keux

Christ's College, Le Keux

Christ's College, Le Keux, Memorials of Cambridge (1845)

John Le Keux, born in London to a Huguenot family, produced the engravings found in Memorials of Cambridge, first published in 1841 and reprinted in 1845. Many of his engravings of Cambridge were based on drawings by Jonathan Anderson Bell or Frederick Mackenzie. Memorials of Cambridge was re-issued in 1861, with its text heavily revised by Charles Henry Cooper, but retaining Le Keux's illustrations. Nine new plates by Robert Farren were added at this point. Cambridge Described and Illustrated (1897) (Atkinson and Clark) reproduces many of Le Keux's pictures, as does Le Keux's Engravings of Victorian Cambridge (1981 and 1985 (CUP)))

Le Keux produced over seventy steel engravings of Cambridge, including not just the Colleges, but also most of the churches, the castle and the Pitt Press. The text of Memorials of Cambridge also contains a similar number of smaller, part-page, illustrations.

A further example of Le Keux's work is used to illustrate the page on hand coloured prints.