Brooks, John (DNB00)

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BROOKS, JOHN (fl. 1755), engraver, was a native of Ireland, and his first known work was executed in line-engraving at Dublin in 1730. The skill and industry of Brooks in his early years appeared in a copy which he made in pen and ink from a plate of Richard III by Hogarth, who is said to have mistaken it for his own engraving. The earliest engraved portrait of Mrs. Woffington is that by Brooks, and bears the date of June 1740. Between 1741 and 1746 Brooks produced at Dublin several mezzotinto portraits and engravings. About 1747 he settled in London, and engaged in the management of a manufactory at Battersea for the enamelling of china in colours by a process which he had devised. The articles produced were ornamented with subjects chiefly from Homer and Ovid, and were greatly admired for the beauty of the designs and the elegance and novelty of the style in which they were executed. The manufactory was for a time successful, but led eventually to the bankruptcy of its chief proprietor, Stephen Theodore Janssen, lord mayor of London for 1754-5. Brooks continued in London as an engraver and enameller of china. He is said to have spent much of his later years in dissipation, and there are no records of his works during that period, or of the date of his death. Some of the pupils of Brooks highly distinguished themselves as engravers in mezzotinto. Among them was James MacArdell, one of the most eminent masters of that art. A catalogue of the works of Brooks was for the first time published some years since by the writer of the present notice, and to it some additions were made in 1878 in the work by J. C. Smith on British mezzotinto portraits.

[Dublin Journal, 1742-6; Anthologia Hibernica, 1793; Hist. of Dublin, 1856.]

J. T. G.