A pair of line engravings of Britain’s youngest Prime Minister, the Right Hon. William Pitt (1759-1806) and Britain’s first Foreign Secretary the Hon. Charles James Fox (1749-1806). The former engraved by William Bromley, published 1808 by Robert Bowyer, after Thomas Gainsborough. The latter engraved by William Bromley, published 1815 by Robert Bowyer.
Britain’s youngest and arguably greatest Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger led Britain in the great wars against France and Napoleon. Although often referred to as a Tory, Pitt identified himself as an independent Whig. An outstanding administrator, Pitt worked for efficiency and reform. One of his most important accomplishments was the revitalisation of the nation’s finances after the American War of Independence. He helped the Government manage the mounting national debt, and made changes to the tax system in order to improve its efficiency. Charles James Fox (1749-1806) was a champion of liberty. He conducted a long and brilliant vendetta against George III and was thus almost always in political opposition and, in fact, he held high office for less than a year altogether. He achieved two important reforms, steering through Parliament a resolution pledging it to abolish the slave trade and, in the 1792 Libel Act, restoring to juries their right to decide not merely whether an allegedly libellous article had been published but also what constituted libel in any given case and whether or not a defendant was guilty of it.
William Bromley (1769-1842) was apprenticed to an engraver named Wooding in London. He began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1786 and at the Society of Artists in 1790. He was employed to engrave several paintings commemorating the Napoleonic wars, including A.W. Devis's Death of Nelson (1812) and Thomas Lawrence's portrait of the Duke of Wellington (1818). In 1822, Bromley began exhibiting engravings of the Elgin marbles. These were made for the trustees of the British Museum after Henry Corbould's drawings. He continued to exhibit these engravings nearly every year until 1835. Bromley was the first of a large family of engravers, including his sons John Charles and James Bromley.