Alken, Henry (DNB00)

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ALKEN, HENRY (fl. 1816–1831), draftsman and engraver, is said to have been originally huntsman, stud-groom, or trainer to the Duke of Beaufort. His earliest productions were published anonymously under the signature of ‘Ben Tallyho;’ but in 1816 he issued with his name ‘The Beauties & Defects in the Figure of the Horse comparatively delineated.’ From this date until about 1831 he produced many sets of etchings of sporting subjects, mostly coloured, and sometimes humorous in character, the principal of which were ‘Humorous Specimens of Riding,’ 1821-3; ‘Symptoms of being amazed,’ 1822; ‘Symptoms of being amused,’ 1822; ‘Flowers from Nature,’ 1823-5; ‘A Touch at the Fine Arts,’ 1824; and ‘Ideas,’ 1830. Besides these, he published in 1821 ‘The National Sports of Great Britain,’ ‘Illustrations for Landscape Scenery,’ and ‘Scraps from the Sketch-Book of Henry Alken;’ in 1823, ‘New Sketch-Book;’ in 1824, ‘Sporting Scrap-Book’ and ‘Shakespeare's Seven Ages;’ in 1827, ‘Sporting Sketches;’ and, in 1831, ‘Illustrations to Popular Songs’ and ‘Illustrations of Don Quixote,’ the latter engraved by John Christian Zeitter. The fertility of Alken's pencil was amazing; but the idea of it might be fictitiously enhanced if the fact were not borne in mind that he left two or three sons—one of whom was named Henry—all artists, and all sporting artists, who have been incessantly painting, lithographing, aquatinting, and etching for the sporting publishers and for private patrons of the turf. In all Alken's works there is a freedom of handling and a happy choice of subject which rendered them very popular in their day. One of his drawings in water-colours, ‘Fox-Hunting,’ is in the South Kensington Museum.

[Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xi. 516, xii. 155; Blackwood's Edin. Mag. 1824, xv. 219; Alken's works in Print-Room, British Museum.]

R. E. G.