Prominent Artists in Pamela


We are including biographical notes on Gravelot and Joseph Highmore as two of the most prominent artists who provided illustrations for Pamela. Gravelot is frequently seen as a very strong influence of the whole style of French engraving, and his illustrations for Pamela are taken to be some of his finest work. Joseph Highmore, on the other hand, is an example of the domestic interpretation of Pamela's literary and social success. His series of paintings, for which the use as book illustrations was only perceived after they were completed, indicates that the character of Pamela, the scenes from the book, and the moral of her story, were well-known and popular enough to be recognizable (and marketable).


Gravelot (Hubert Francois Bourguignon)

Hubert Francois Bourguignon, called Gravelot (1699-1773), was a particularly strong influence on the English art of book engraving. He was a pupil of Boucher, a famous French engraver. Gravelot was resident in England from 1732 to 1745, as book illustrator and ornamental designer, and taught a whole generation at the academy in St. Martin's Lane in London. He supplied illustrations to English publishers until after the middle of the century.

Gravelot's scene from Pamela

Gravelot remained one of the last foreign artists to influence the strongly developing national style of English illustration, which Hogarth directed particularly towards caricature and genre scenes. To the vigorous anecdotal native subjects which Hogarth chose, Gravelot added sophisticated decor and dress. A factoid that becomes particularly interesting in view of the prudishness of Pamela, the novel, and Pamela, its main female character, Gravelot taught the classical method of drawing figures: first in the nude, before clothing was added, to ensure liveliness and functional proportions. Aside from contributing his engravings for Richardson's Pamela, he also illustrated an edition of Gay's Fables.


Gravelot's scene from Pamela


Joseph Highmore

Joseph Highmore was born in London, on June 13th 1692. He was the third son of Edward and Mary (Tull) Highmore. His father was a coal merchant in Thames Street. He was articles as clerk to an attorney in 1707, but his ambition was always to paint, and he studied for two years at the academy founded by Kneller in Great Queen Street. Beginning as a professional portrait painter in 1715, he gained clients from the City merchants who approved of what they perceived to be his ability to convey likeness and character without ostentation. He married in 1716, and a move in 1723 to a house in Lincoln's Inn Field marked his growing business and prosperity.

Mr. B finds Pamela Writing

Pamela Asks Sir Jacob Swinford's Blessing

Pamela Leaves Mr B's House in Bedfordshire

Pamela Shows Mr Williams a Hiding Place for her Letters


Highmore's contribution to a folio of engravings relating to the Order of the Bath and its ceremonies obtained him a number of commissions from the Knights of the order. Admiration for Rubens led him to visit the Netherlands in 1732.

His series of paintings in illustration of Samuel Richardson's Pamela and small, full-length, single and group portraits of the same period and style, were his principal achievement of the 1740s. Pamela had been illustrated in 1742 by Francis Hayman and the French engraver Gravelot, and Highmore's picture series following a year later had an elegance somewhat recalling Gravelot's work. As a result of the paintings, Highmore became a close friend of Richardson, and not only painted illustrations for Richardson's other novels, but also portrayed the novelist himself.

Highmore's Portrait of Richardson

Mr. Oldham and his Guests, considered to be one of Highmore's best works, used to be attributed to Hogarth, because of the similarities of the styles in which the artists were approaching the newly popular genre of conversation pieces. Some of Highmore's paintings dealing with Pamela can be said to belong to that same genre.

Highmore retired as a painter in 1761 and left London to live with his family at Canterbury in 1762. He died at Canterbury, on March 3rd, 1780.

Source: Einberg, Elizabeth, and Judy Egerton. The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709. London: The Tate Gallery, 1988.