William Henry Bartlett

From this time until his death, Bartlett travelled widely in the Middle East, Europe and America, making hundreds of sketches for engravings in more than 40 books, 13 of which he wrote and illustrated himself.


William Henry Bartlett

 William Henry Bartlett, artist, author, traveller (b in Kentish Town, Eng 26 Mar 1809; d at sea off Malta 13 Sept 1854). As a boy Bartlett served an apprenticeship (1822-29) under John Britton during which he showed ability as a draftsman and landscape artist. In 1832 he met William Beattie, who remained his lifelong friend and biographer and who arranged for him to make sketches for his travel book, Switzerland Illustrated (1836).

From this time until his death, Bartlett travelled widely in the Middle East, Europe and America, making hundreds of sketches for engravings in more than 40 books, 13 of which he wrote and illustrated himself. His popularity owed much to his architectural training which, when combined with his penchant for the picturesque and the sublime, guaranteed that the reader saw scenes he could recognize as charming, impressive and representational.

Bartlett spent several months in Canada in 1838 sketching prominent sights such as the falls at Montmorency and Niagara, the fish market at Toronto, the view over Montréal, and the locks on the Rideau Canal at Ottawa. As well, he showed Canadians at their daily work: clearing the forest, fishing, rafting on the Ottawa, excavating the Long Sault Canal, bringing in nets at Wellington in Prince Edward County, ferrying cattle in the Eastern Townships, and building the esplanade at Québec C. The many engravings that illustrate the 2 volumes of Canadian Scenery (1842) constitute an important and attractive documentation of living conditions in the Maritimes and the Canadas in 1838.


Further Reading

  • Alexander M. Ross, William Henry Bartlett (1973).