Walter Scott


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William Colley Wrankmore (fl. 1836-58)

Although a prolific and versatile engraver who was clearly held in high regard by his contemporaries, William Colley Wrankmore is barely mentioned in the standard reference works. This neglect is doubtless a result of the itinerant nature of his artistic career. Shortly after establishing himself as an engraver in England, he left for the Continent and produced the greater part of his work for Central European publishers. The following is an attempt to piece together his professional itinerary, working from a variety of sources listed in the Bibliography. The page editor would be glad to receive any further biographical or bibliographical information.

Wrankmore's work first appears in British publications in the mid-1830s. The earliest examples that we have traced are three plates from 1836: Christiana at the Wicket Gate after Henry Melville in the Christian Keepsake and Missionary Annual,1 The Young Destructive after C. Wrankmore in the Drawing Room Scrap Book, and an untitled illustration after Thomas Stothard in Chambers Spelling Dictionary (London: R. Chambers, 1836). A digital image of the latter may be seen in the online catalogue of London's Wellcome Library. Wrankmore was commissioned to work on a number of further keepsakes and annuals. Plates bearing his name appear in Fisher's Juvenile Scrap-Book for 1838 and 1839, for the latter of which he engraved Rufus Impey after C. Wrankmore. For the 1837 and 1839 editions of Friendship's Offering (London: Smith, Elder, and Co.), Wrankmore engraved The Maiden's Vow and Who's There!! respectively, both after John William Wright. Digital images of both may be seen in the Online Collections of the National Maritime Museum. Wrankmore also contributed to two keepsakes featuring British artists prepared for the French market: Chroniques et légendes: France (Paris: Janet, [1837]) and Paris-Londres: Keepsake français, 1840-1841 (Paris: H. L. Delloye, 1841) (both recorded in Vicaire, IV, 654, 692). Bookwork from this period includes plates for two illustrated works of fiction produced for Longman, Orme, Green, and Longmans under the superintendence of Charles Heath. For Bulwer Lytton's Leila, or, The Siege of Granada. (1838), he engraved a plate after Francis Philip Stephanoff, and for G. P. R. James's A Book of the Passions (1839), a vignette after Edward Corbould. A digital image of the latter may be seen in the Online Collection of the British Museum.

In 1838, Wrankmore was elected to the Artists' Annuity Fund (see Pye, p. 395).2 Shortly afterwards, however, he appears to have moved to Leipzig, where he worked for the Englische Kunst-Anstalt ('English Art Institution') founded by his compatriot Albert Henry Payne. His first Leipzig-published works appear to be engravings after Georg Emanuel Opitz for Moritz Ferdinand Smaltz's Erbauungs-Stunden für Jünglinge und Jungfrauen nach ihrem feierlichen Eintritte in die Mitte reiferer Christen (Friedrich Fleischer, 1840) (see Wegehaupt, I, 216) and landscapes after Adrian Ludwig Richter for the series Das malerische und romantische Deutschland (Georg Wigand, 1840-41). Having previously specialized in landscape and genre engravings, Wrankmore turned increasingly to portrait work in the 1840s. In 1840, he published a portrait of Frederick the Great after Johann Heinrich Ramberg, and in 1841 he published a much-reproduced image of the composer Mendelssohn after Theodor Hildebrandt (in collaboration with A.H. Payne).3 Further portraits included writers such as Fredrika Bremer (after Olaf Johan Södermark) (see Montén, p. 243) and Therese von Bacheracht (1847), and musicians such as Georg Karl Reginald Herlossohn after A. Richter (1849) (see Lane/Browne, p. 689), Jenny Lind after P. O. Wagner, and Clara Schumann after C. Neumann (both ca. 1850). Images of the Lind and Schumann portraits may be seen in the Digital Gallery of New York Public Library and the Gallica Web Library of the Bibliothèque de France respectively.4

It is during this period that Wrankmore produced his one Scott-related work, an engraving of the 1830 portrait of Scott by Sir John Watson Gordon for an 1845 edition of Waverley published (in English) by Tauchnitz of Leipzig. It seems likely that Wrankmore spent some time in Prague during the 1840s as he engraved portraits of two Czech celebrities, the poet and linguist Josef Jungmann and the ophthalmologist Johann Nepomuk Fischer, both after Thaddaus Fr. Mayer, for the Prague annual Libussa in 1847 (see Burgess, p. 188 and Wieser/Zrounek, p. 76).

Wrankmore's Leipzig-based work of the 1840s also included scriptural engravings. An engraving of Raphael's Christ Carrying the Cross appeared in J. P. Silbert's Das Leben unsres Herrn Jesu Christi, des Sohnes Gottes und der Jungfrau (Leipzig, 1842). Nagler (1852) also records undated engravings of St John the Baptist at the Fountain after Lodovico Cigoli and Christ Carrying the Cross after Johann Friedrich Overbeck (p. 109). Towards the latter part of the decade Wrankmore began preparing plates for children's books, including A. B. Reichenbach's Naturgeschichte des Thierreichs zur Belehrung und Unterhaltung für Jung und Alt (Leipzig: Baumgärtner, 1847) (see Wegehaupt, I, 200-01) and Karl Goehring's Columbus: die Entdeckung Amerika's, Deutschlands wackerer Jugend erz. (Leipzig, Teubner, 1849).

For the remainder of his career, Wrankmore appears to have worked primarily for the children's book market. His engravings appeared, for example, in Franz Hoffmann's Der treue Wächter (1850) and Haß und Liebe (1851) and Richard Baron's Aus Nacht zum Licht! (1858) and Der Schmuck der Mutter (1860) (see Wegehaupt, II, 76). These were published by Trewendt in the Polish city of Wroclaw, which was then part of Prussia and known under the German name of 'Breslau'. That Wrankmore may have spent some time in modern-day Poland is also suggested by the appearance of his work in two Polish-language publications. An 1857 edition of the collected Polish-language works of the Renaissance poet Jan Kochanowski, Wszystkie dziela polskie (Przemsyl: Naklad Michala Dzikowskiego), carried an engraved portrait of Kochanowski by Wrankmore as a frontispiece. He also contributed at least one plate, possibly a portrait, to an 1858 edition of Adam Mickiewicz's Collected Poems, Pisma (Warsaw: S. H. Merzbach, 1858) (see Banach, p. 439). The latest engraving by Wrankmore that we have been able to trace appeared in the 6th edition of the Seemann, Leipzig edition of Christian August Gottlob Eberhard's children's tale Hannchen und die Küchlein in 1860. It may well be, however, that it was first published in earlier editions of the same work.

During the time of Wrankmore's residence in Central Europe, a number of English translations of German works were credited to a 'W. C. Wrankmore'. These include editions of Lessing's Minna von Barnhelm (Leipzig: Gumprecht, 1858), Moritz Busch's Guide for Travellers in Egypt and Adjacent Countries Subject to the Pasha (London: Trübner, 1858), Adolphus Goerling's The Galleries of Vienna (Leipzig, 1861), and of Eugenie Marlitt's Gold Else (Leipzig: W. Baensch, 1868). It seems likely that the translator is identical with the engraver or is possibly a son. The presence of a number of Wrankmores with German Christian names in the catalogue of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek strongly suggests that the engraver put down roots in the German-speaking world.


1 Hunnisett (1989) does not mention this engraving in his brief entry for Wrankmore but lists a plate with the title The Wicket Gate published in an unspecified 1836 edition of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (p.104). Christiana at the Wicket Gate definitely portrays a female figure with her young family in illustration to the poem 'Christiana and Family at the Wicket Gate' by Bernard Barton.

2 Pye is the only source to give Wrankmore's Christian names. According to an International Genealogical Index record published by, a William Colley Wrankmore was born on 26 June 1812 to George Crosby Wrankmore and Mary Wrankmore (née Colley), and christened at the church of Saint Clement Danes, Westminster, London, on 10 December 1812. It seems likely that he is identical with the engraver.

3 The latter was subsequently used as a frontispiece for a British publication, an edition of Mendelssohn's Elijah: An Oratorio (London: Ewer, 1847).

4 The Digital Gallery of the New York Public Library also includes The Bridal Wreath (Bavarian Country Girls), an undated engraving by Wrankmore after August Wilhelm Esperstedt.


  • Banach, Andrzej. Polska Ksiazka Ilustrowana, 1800-1900 (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1959)

  • Burgess, Renate. Portraits of Doctors & Scientists in the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine: A Catalogue (London: Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine, 1973)

  • Hunnisett, Basil. A Dictionary of British Steel Engravers (Leigh-on-Sea: F. Lewis, 1980)

  • Hunnisett, Basil. An Illustrated Dictionary of British Steel Engravers (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1989)

  • Lane, William Coolidge, and Nina E. Browne (eds). A.L.A. Portrait Index: Index to Portraits Contained in Printed Books and Periodicals (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1906)

  • Le Blanc, Charles. Manuel de l'amateur d'estampes: contenant le dictionnaire des graveurs de toutes les nations: dans lequel sont décrites les estampes rares, précieuses et intéressantes, avec l'indication de leurs différents états et des prix auxquels ces estampes ont été portées dans les ventes publiques, en France et à l'étranger, depuis un siècle (Amsterdam: G. W. Hissink, 1970) (Reprint. Originally published: Paris: P. Jannet, 1854-90)

  • Montén, Karin Carten. Fredrika Bremer in Deutschland: Aufnahme und Kritik (Neumünster: K. Wachholtz, 1981)

  • Nagler, Georg Kaspar (ed.). Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, oder, Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Werken der Maler, Bildhauer, Baumeister, Kupferstecher, Formschneider, Lithographen, Zeichner, Medailleure, Elfenbeinarbeiter, etc., 22 vols (Munich: E. A. Fleischmann, 1835-52), XXII (1852)

  • Pye, John. Patronage of British Art: An Historical Sketch, Comprising an Account of the Rise and Progress of Art and Artists in London, from the Beginning of the Reign of George the Second: Together with a History of the Society for the Management and Distribution of the Artists’ Fund (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1845)

  • Vicaire, Georges. Manuel de l’amateur de livres du XIXe siècle, 1801-1893: éditions originales, ouvrages et périodiques illustrés, romantiques, réimpressions critiques de textes anciens ou classiques, bibliothèques et collections diverses, publications des sociétés de bibliophiles de Paris et des départments, curiosités bibliographiques, etc., etc., 8 vols (Paris: Rouquette, 1894-1920), IV (1900)

  • Wegehaupt, Heinz. Alte deutsche Kinderbücher: Bibliographie zugleich Bestandsverzeichnis der Kinder- und Jugendbuchabteilung der Deutschen Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, 2 vols (Hamburg: Hauswedell, 1979-85)

  • Wieser, Walter G., and Wilhelm Zrounek (eds.). Bilder und Bücher: 200 Jahre ehem. Familien-Fideikommission-Bibliothek des Hauses Habsburg-Lothringen, 200 Jahre Porträtsammlung Osterreich 1945 bis 1955, Ausstellung im Prunksaal der Osterreichischen Nationalbibliothek, 25.10.1985-29.3.1986 (Vienna: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 1985)

In addition to the printed works listed above, the following online databases were consulted: the Online Collection of the British Museum, the Gallica Web Library of the Bibliothèque de France, the Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund Catalogue (GBV), the Digital Gallery of the New York Public Library, the National Maritime Museum's Collections Online, OCLC's WorldCat union catalogue, and Harry S. Hootman's Index of British Literary Annuals. At the time of writing, a number of prints by Wrankmore were advertized by online antiquarian print- and booksellers, not all of which are obviously drawn from the publications listed in the above entry. These include views of Hamburg, Lahore, Cincinnati, and Gretna, portraits of Pope Pius IX (after G. Vitta), of M. De Arras und P.A. de Polonia, architects of the Prague Cathedral (ca. 1850), and of 18th- and 19th-century European royalty, including Wilhelmine, Markgräfin von Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1709-58) and Cecilia, Grand-Duchess of Oldenburg (1807-44). The page editor was also unable to consult several works which apparently list further plates by Wrankmore, including Leopold Hirschberg's Moritz Retzch: chronologisches Verzeichniss seiner graphischen Werke (Berlin, 1925) and the Buch- und Kunst-Katalog: Gesammt-Verlags-Katalog des deutschen Buchhandels (Muenster: Adolph Russell, 1881), which lists a Last Supper after Rubens and a Christ on the Cross after Prudhon.

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