Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shaw, Henry

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SHAW, HENRY (1800–1873), architectural draughtsman, engraver, illuminator, and antiquary, was born in London on 4 July 1800. Having early developed a talent for drawing, he was employed by John Britton to assist him in his ‘Cathedral Antiquities of England,’ and supplied most of the illustrations of Wells Cathedral and many of that of Gloucester. In 1823 he published ‘A Series of Details of Gothic Architecture,’ and in 1829, with plates drawn and engraved by himself, ‘The History and Antiquities of the Chapel at Luton Park,’ an exquisite specimen of the most florid style of Gothic architecture, destroyed by fire in 1843. These were followed by other antiquarian works of great interest, such as ‘Illuminated Ornaments of the Middle Ages, selected from Manuscripts and early printed Books,’ with descriptive text by Sir Frederic Madden, 1833; ‘Examples of Ornamental Metal Work,’ 1836; ‘Specimens of Ancient Furniture,’ with descriptions by Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick [q. v.], 1836; ‘Ancient Plate and Furniture from the Colleges of Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum,’ also with descriptive text by Sir S. R. Meyrick, 1837; ‘Specimens of the Details of Elizabethan Architecture,’ with descriptions by Thomas Moule, 1839; ‘The Encyclopædia of Ornament,’ 1842; ‘Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages,’ 1843; ‘The Fishmongers' Pageant, on Lord Mayor's Day, 1616: Chrysanaleia, the Golden Fishing, devised by Anthony Munday,’ with introduction by John Gough Nichols, 1844; ‘Alphabets, Numerals, and Devices of the Middle Ages,’ 1845; ‘Decorative Arts, ecclesiastical and civil, of the Middle Ages,’ 1851; ‘The Hand Book of Mediæval Alphabets and Devices,’ 1853; ‘The Arms of the Colleges of Oxford,’ 1855; ‘Specimens of Tile Pavements,’ 1858; and ‘Handbook of the Art of Illumination as practised during the Middle Ages,’ 1866. Most of these are rendered of permanent value by the knowledge and taste displayed in the selection of the examples by which they are illustrated, and by the careful drawing and colouring of the plates.

Shaw was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1833, and contributed a few papers to its ‘Proceedings,’ of which the most important was an ‘Account of the Remains of a Tile Pavement recently found within the precincts of Chertsey Abbey, Surrey’ (Proceedings, 1856, iii. 269–77). He edited in 1848 a reproduction of Walter Gidde's ‘Booke of sundry Draughtes principally seruing for Glaziers, and not impertinent for Plasterers and Gardeners,’ originally published in 1615. He also designed or adapted, and drew on the wood, the initial letters and all the decorative portions of Longman's edition of the New Testament, published in 1864. He likewise executed some excellent work in the form of illuminated addresses and testimonials.

Shaw died at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on 12 June 1873. His copy of ‘Illuminated Ornaments,’ highly finished by his own hand, is in the library of the British Museum.

[Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists, 1878; Athenæum, 1873, i. 798; Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual, ed. Bohn, iv. 2371; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

R. E. G.