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Book illustration - Spiritual Conceits
  • Spiritual Conceits
    Swain, Joseph, born 1820 - died 1909
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Spiritual Conceits

  • Object:

    Book illustration

  • Place of origin:

    London (published)

  • Date:

    1862 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Swain, Joseph, born 1820 - died 1909 (wood-engraver)
    Rogers, William Harry, born 1825 - died 1873 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood engraving on laid paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the Assistance of the Friends of the National Libraries

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 190

Physical description

Rectangular book illustration depicting the symbols of the four Evangelists in roundels arranged around an open book symbolising the Gospels below which Lucifer, in the form of a dragon, lies writhing with the Gospels.

Proof of book illustration opposite 'The Gospels,' by Geo. Wither on 96p. for 'Spiritual Conceits'. W. Harry Rogers drew on wood for this engraving to be made by the wood-engraver Joseph Swain.

'But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you let him be accursed.' Galatians, i.8.

There are two horizontal creases above and below the book illustration which are most visible on the reverse.

'Spiritual Conceits' extracted from the Writings of the fathers, the Old English poets, ec. (sic) & illustrated by W. Harry Rogers London (Griffith & Farran, corner of St. Paul's Churchyard 1862 MDCCCLVII'

Place of Origin

London (published)


1862 (published)


Swain, Joseph, born 1820 - died 1909 (wood-engraver)
Rogers, William Harry, born 1825 - died 1873 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Wood engraving on laid paper


Height: 22.3 cm, Width: 17.1 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: These book illustrations are part of the W.Harry Rogers Archive and to quote the information on the archive provided by 'RW' on 6 February 1998 on the registered file 1997/1476:-
'It is extraordinarily rare to have this kind of documentation at this level of production for the middle decades of the 19th century. The fact the (sic) the state of the designs ranges from rough sketches to finished drawings and proofs allows the pieces to document the design process very closely.'

Descriptive line

Book illustration to 'Spiritual Conceits', 1862, designed by W. Harry Rogers and engraved on wood by Joseph Swain.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Engen, Rodney K. 'Dictionary of Victorian Wood Engravers'. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1985. 223 p. and 251 p. ISBN 0859641392
Houfe, Simon 'The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists'. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Baron Publishing, Antique Collectors' Club, revised 1981 437 p. ISBN 0902028731
Ball, Douglas 'Victorian Publishers' Bindings.' London: The Library Association, 1985. 90 p. and 155 p.

Production Note

'the fact that the editor and the artist are the same person is, probably a novel feature.' from 'To the Reader' introduction by W. Harry Rogers.


Laid paper; Ink


Wood-engraving (process)


TITLES: Spiritual Conceits; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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