Detail from "Love stole the pipe of sleeping Pan and play'd / Then with his voice decoys the listening Swain" by James Heath, after a drawing by Thomas Stothard, 1779. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
after a drawing by Thomas Stothard, history painter, illustrator and designer, 1755-1834
A young shepherd is seated in a woodland setting. He rests at the base of a tree on the left and holds what is probably a recorder. His shepherd's crook lies across his legs. Opposite the shepherd on the right is "Love," a cupid who plays a panpipe. Beneath this illustration are two lines of verse: "Love stole the pipe of sleeping Pan and play'd / Then with his voice decoys the listening Swain." These lines come from Cantata V, called Corydon, one of six cantatas written by the poet John Hughes (1677-1720) which were set to music by the composer Johann Christoph Pepusch (1667-1752) and published in 1710 as Six English Cantatas Humbly Inscribed to the most Noble Marchioness of Kent. However, as the inscription at the top of this etching indicates, it is the frontispiece to one of two volumes (71 and 72) devoted to Hughes in a multivolume edition of British poetry entitled Bell's Edition. The Poets of Great Britain complete from Chaucer to Churchill.
The image of the shepherd, "Corydon," appears at the front of volume 71 and faces an etched portrait of the John Hughes. The text of Cantata V which this etching illustrates is on pages 14 and 15 of volume 72. Two stanzas of "Recitatives" alternate with two "Airs," the "Airs" being accompanied "with a flute." There are thirty-one lines of verse in all, but here is the text from the two "Recitatives" which most closely relate to the etching: "While Corydon, the lonely shepherd, try'd / His tuneful flute, and charm'd the grove, / The jealous nightingales, that strove / To trace his notes, contending dy'd. / At last he hears, within a myrtle shade, / An echo answer all his strain: / Love stole the pipe of sleeping Pan, and play'd, / Then with his voice decoys the list'ning swain. / ... / The shepherd rose, he gaz'd around, / And vainly sought the magic sound; / The god of Love his motion spies, / Lays by the pipe, and shoots a dart / Thro' Corydon's unwary heart, / Then, smiling, from his ambush flies; / While his room, divinely bright, / The reigning beauty of the groves surpris'd the shepherd's sight. / ...." This frontispiece is reproduced in a biography of Stothard by A. C. Coxhead, Thomas Stothard, R. A.: An Illustrated Monograph. It faces a text on page 86 which describes the instrument held by the shepherd as a flageolet.
About the Artists
James Heath, engraver, 1757-1834
James Heath, the engraver of the Corydon print in the Miller collection, was almost an exact contemporary of Thomas Stothard, whose drawing was the model for this etching. Heath was born in London in 1757, and he died in the same city in 1834. He was the engraver of the Royal Academy and was named engraver to the King in 1794. James Heath engraved works after Thomas Stothard and Robert Smirke (1752-1845), a genre painter and illustrator, for the Novelist's Magazine, and for two multivolume series published by John Bell, The Poets of Great Britain complete from Chaucer to Churchill (1777-1787) and British Theatre (1791-1802). There is a short biographical notice on Heath in Bénézit.
Thomas Stothard, history painter, illustrator and designer, 1755-1834
The artist who prepared the drawing on which this etching was based is Thomas Stothard, whose name is incorrectly spelled beneath the etching. Stothard was born in London in 1755 and died there in 1834. From the age of five until he was thirteen, he lived in Yorkshire. After his father's death in 1769, he apprenticed in London for seven years as a silk-weaver from 1770 to 1777. Afterward, from 1777 to about 1783, Stothard studied at the Royal Academy, where he exhibited his painting of the Holy Family in 1778. By 1780, Stothard found fairly regular employment as an illustrator for periodicals such as The Town and Country Magazine and The Lady's Magazine. Elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1792, then full academician in 1795, Stothard was later the Assistant Librarian of the Royal Academy in 1810, and then appointed Librarian in 1812, all the while continuing his drawings and illustrations, which ultimately numbered over 5000. Stothard provided illustrations for many books, among them, Richardson's Clasissa (1784), Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield (1792), Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1798), as well as the works of Walter Scott and Byron. Stothard submitted paintings to Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, Macklin's Poet's Gallery, and Bowyer's Historic Gallery. He also produced decorative wall paintings for the staircase at Burghley House in Cambridgeshire, and painted Parnassus in the dome of the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh. Stothard created many small landscape and genre paintings, as well as provided designs for sculptural works. Though Stothard was himself an etcher, he did not engrave his own works which he entrusted mostly to William Blake or James Heath.
- Bell's Edition. The Poets of Great Britain complete from Chaucer to Churchill. 109 vols. London: Printed for J. Bell, 1777-1787. Rare Book and Special Collections Division. LC call number: PR1171.B5 Pre-1801 Collection. [back to article]
- A. C. Coxhead, Thomas Stothard, R. A.: An Illustrated Monograph. London: A. H. Bullen, 1906. LC call number: ND497.S9C6. [back to article]
- A short biographical entry on Stothard is available in Bénézit. For further biographical information on Stothard, see the following sources: Hanns Hammelmann. Book Illustrators in Eighteenth-Century England, edited and compiled by T. S. R. Boase. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1975. LC call number: NC978.H28. A biography of Stothard and a chronological listing of the many publications to which Stothard submitted his designs for illustrations can be found on pp. 68-71. See also A.C. Coxhead, Thomas Stothard, R.A. London: A. H. Bullen, 1906. LC call number: ND497.S9C6. An article by Mark Stocker, "Thomas Stothard," provides a good summary of his life and major works, as well as bibliographic sources, in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (subscription only). [back to article]