FREDERICK SCHENCK

(E. E. Friedrich T. Schenck 1811-1885)  Lithographer

  In the early 1840s the outstanding Edinburgh-based lithographer Frederick Schenck set up an atelier to instruct artists in the skill of drawing on stone. He also gave lectures and practical demonstrations to the Royal Society of Arts and contributed a Treatise on Lithographic Printing for Encyclopaedia Britannica. He allowed artists to attend the atelier and produce their own lithographs. Among those to benefit were Jemima Wedderburn, the talented cousin of James Clerk Maxwell, John Ruskin later described her as “the best artist I know”.  Schenck’s open approach contrasted with the secretiveness of other lithographers at the time, and was an important contribution to the development of the arts generally in Scotland and artistic lithographic printing in particular.

Frederick Schenck was one of many key people encouraged in business by the philanthropic papermaker Alexander Cowan.

photograph and note of Alexander Cowan from his son Charles’s Reminiscences  

 

 

Schenck’s magnificent 1848 “Pictorial Giftbook or Lays and Lithographs” was inscribed to Cowan. In the Giftbook Schenck’s lithographs were accompanied with verses by his wife’s father David Vedder; the book was sold by John Menzies in Edinburgh and the letterpress printed by Alexander Cowan’s son-in-law Tom Constable, the Queen’s printer.  Cowan’s encouragement and Schenck’s practical example helped lay the foundation for over a century of high quality printing and mapmaking in Edinburgh.

 

Many of Schenck’s Giftbook lithographs are used to illustrate David Vedder’s translations from the German. The Aurora Borealis “As seen from the Orkney Islands no doubt reflects Vedder’s Orcadian background; it is “drawn on stone by W. H. Townsend”.  The Shakespeare portrait is Drawn upon stone by Wilhelm Trautschold after the bust in the possession of R. Muspratt. Esq., Liverpool. It is accompanied by Vedder’s “Stanzas to Shakespeare”.  The book gives the impression that Vedder’s words have been brought in to give a setting for the lithographs, rather than the other way round.

 

A full biography by David H J Schenck   (Great-grandson of E. E. Friedrich T. Schenck)  :

E. E. Friedrich T. Schenck

F.R.S.S.A., M. Inst Educ S.

 

 

Emil Ernst Friedrich Schenck was born in Offenbach on 19th June 1811, the son of Hauptmann Wilhelm Friedrich Georg Schenck, a captain in the Army of Hesse, and his wife Johanna (née Siebenlist).   The family had an interesting background, and Wilhelm’s godfathers were Willem Frederich, Erbprinz of Orange and Nassau, and Willem Georg Frederich, Prinz of Orange and Nassau.  Hauptman Schenck, who had been born in The Hague in 1785, died prematurely in Marburg on 29th October 1822, at which time Friedrich Schenck was only 11 years old.  Following completion of his University education, Friedrich studied and worked as an artist and lithographer in Munich.  By 1838, he was similarly engaged in Paris, and possibly Stuttgart, all cities noted for lithographic excellence.  

 

In 1840, Friedrich Schenck was brought to Edinburgh, Scotland by the lithographer, Samuel Leith, with the objective of raising the standard of artistic lithography in his business.  On 11th August 1842, Schenck married Jane Vedder, daughter of the Orcadian born, David Vedder, a Tide-Surveyor from Leith, a remarkable man, who had already achieved considerable distinction in Scotland as a poet and writer.  (See Directory of National Biographies).  Within three years, Schenck left Samuel Leith and established his own lithographic business, first appearing in the Edinburgh Post Office Directory of 1843, having both his business and residence located at 9, Greenside Place, Edinburgh.  In the ensuing years Friedrich encouraged a number of distinguished artists to draw on stone in his atelier.  In addition to topographical views, military prints and maps, he produced many lithographed portraits, his chalk portraiture being described by the well-known authors of  lithographic works, C. W. H. Wyman and E. C. Bigmore as ‘second to none’.  Of more than 150 known portraits, eighty are held in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  Variously inscribed Fr. Schenck, Schenck & Ghémar, Schenck and Macfarlane, and Schenck & Son, they include internationally and nationally known figures, such as Goethe, Niebuhe, Shakespeare, Martin Luther, Robert Burns, James Watt, and embrace a number of 'series' including successive Lords Advocate, Professors of Medicine, Members of Parliament, and distinguished Scottish artists.

 

Following a series of lectures on lithographic topics, Schenck was highly commended by the Royal Scottish Society of Arts, who stated that he had prosecuted lithography in Scotland with such energy, ‘taste and skill as to have advanced it from a mere branch of trade to take its place among the fine arts of the country’.  His efforts now recognized, he was elected a Fellow of the Society, and following his invention and demonstration of the now universally used cross-line system of registration, was awarded a medal, and twenty gold sovereigns.  In 1848, Schenck collaborated with his father-in-law, David Vedder, to produce his first known lithographic bookwork of importance, ‘The Pictorial Gift Book of Lays and Lithography’.  This contained a portrait, Shakespeare, by Wilhelm Trautschold, described by the Tait Magazine as ‘perfect a specimen of lithography as we have yet seen issued in this country’.

 

By 1850, Friedrich Schenck appears to have been recognized as the foremost lithographer of artistic works in Scotland, and with the artist Louis Ghémar, produced a number of beautifully chromolithographed illustrations in The Chapel of St Anthony at Murthly.  Born in Lannoy in 1820, Louis Ghémar was a gifted artist whose works include a very fine print of the House of John Knox, and excellent lithographed portraits of the distinguished artists John Faed and Thomas Faed in an unusually dashing style, and which were more recently reproduced in Mary McKerrow’s book The Faeds (Cannongate 1982).  Ghémar also worked in oils.  Around 1855, he lived at 14, Princes Street, being listed in the Post Office Directory as ‘Ghimer, Lewis’.  In the following year he returned to Belgium, where he and his brother established a photographic business. The combined inscription ‘Schenck and Ghémar’ appears on a number of portraits and topographical views produced within the period 1847 and 1850, but this apparent change in title was not reflected in Post Office Directories, suggesting that the partnership was an informal arrangement.

 

However, in 1850, Friedrich Schenck moved to 19 St James Square, entering the formal partnership ‘Schenck & Macfarlane’ with William Husband Macfarlane (b. Dunfermline in 1805.  d. Italy in 1875), formerly a Tea, Wine, and Spirit Merchant in Howe Street.  Even so, the inscription of Louis Ghémar continued to appear as the artist of a number of works produced by the new partnership.  In 1852, ‘Schenck and Macfarlane’ lithographed the tinted illustrations in David Vedder's brilliant version of the Story of Reynard the Fox.  Drawn on stone by Gustav Canton of Munich, the work was an immediate success, and a second edition was published in 1854.  In addition to specializing in illustrations for books, the firm produced a series of delicately coloured lithographs of landscapes and panoramic views of Edinburgh; and a variety of maps for the distinguished publishers and map makers, John Bartholomew, A. & C. Black, and Chambers.  Schenck also wrote a Short Treatise on Lithography which formed the entry for ‘Lithography’ in the 8th Edition of Encylopaedia Britannica published in 1857.  This concise, but comprehensive, treatise was subsequently re-published in both booklet and article form.

 

In 1859, the partnership of Schenck and Macfarlane was dissolved, William H. Macfarlane purchasing the goodwill of the business, with agreement for the continued use of the ‘Schenck and Macfarlane’ name; and Friedrich Schenck starting a new business under his own name.  The reason for the split is not known.  Macfarlane joined in a new partnership with William Erskine in 1871, and the company, which was renamed Macfarlane & Erskine, continued in business until 1980.   

 

Apart, from artistic commercial work and book illustrations, Friedrich Schenck continued to produce a large range of lithographed portraits.  From 1866–68, he was in partnership with his son Frederick E. E. Schenck, who later achieved distinction as an architectural sculptor in London.  In 1868, Friedrich lost both his wife and his youngest son.  Thereafter, his involvement in lithography appears to have steadily diminished until around 1875, when he retired and took to travelling, writing and teaching the German language with his second wife (née Adele Henriette Momme born in Gottingen on 13 December 1837).  This he continued until his death, in Edinburgh, on 9th June 1885.  He was buried in the Grange Cemetery.

 

Principal Bibliography

David H. J. Schenck.  Directory of the Lithographic Printers of Scotland 1820–1870.  Published in 1999 by The Edinburgh Bibliographic Society in association with The National Library of Scotland.  ISBN 1 872116 29 9 (UK) and by Oak Knoll Press 1 884718 85 X (USA).

 

Geoffrey Wakeman & Gavin D. Bridson. A Guide to Nineteenth Century Colour Printers. Plough Press, Loughborough. 1975. ISBN 0 902813 04 8.

                                                                       

David H J Schenck   (Great-grandson of E. E. Friedrich T. Schenck) 

Ref:  Friedrich Schenck Biography              Revised 7th August 2002             

 

Information on his son the sculptor Frederick E. E. Schenck (1849-1908)

 contributed by David H. J. Schenck to Bob Speel’s Victorian art website at myweb.tiscali.co.uk/speel.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 31st August 1849, Frederick Emil Eberhard Schenck was the second son of E E Friedrich T Schenck, FRSSA, who had emigrated from Offenbach, Germany, to settle in Edinburgh in 1840. By 1850, Friedrich Schenck appears to have been established as one of Scotland's foremost artistic lithographers, having achieved considerable distinction for his work in chalk portraiture and colour lithography.

After a formal education, Frederick Schenck spent two years working in his father's lithographic business in the partnership Schenck & Son. However, with the encouragement of his father, and Clark Stanton RSA, he adopted art as his profession and entered the Edinburgh School of Art, which became the only School outside London to be included in the 1872 prize list of the National Art Competition when Schenck won the Bronze Medal. Resulting from this, he became a National Scholar, and after three months gaining working experience with Wedgwood, spent two years at the National Art Training School, South Kensington (now the Royal College of Art). He then returned to Edinburgh in 1875, where he trained for three years in the Life Class of the Royal Scottish Academy. During this time he exhibited a number of busts at the Academy, and also commenced freelance designing and modelling for the George Jones (Crescent) Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent, mainly specialising in low-relief and highly exacting pate-sur-pate work.

His first known work for George Jones is a jardiniere, inscribed 'F Schenck', the design of which was registered on 31st October 1877.

Following the completion of his course at the Royal Scottish Academy, Schenck took up an appointment as Modelling Master at Hanley School of Art, Stoke-on-Trent. On 7th August 1879, at Birmingham he married Mary Ann Goodall, whose profile is featured on some of his low relief work for George Jones. Over the next few years, he extended his freelance modelling activities, and in addition to George Jones, undertook work for Wedgwood, and also for Brown, Westhead, Moore for whom he modelled a vase, four feet in height. This was awarded the Grand Prix at the Universal Exhibition held in Paris in 1889.

Towards the latter part of the 1880s, the high costs involved in producing intricate pate-sur-pate work led to a decline in manufacture, and, greatly encouraged by the response to his having exhibited a low-relief architectural panel in the Royal Academy, Schenck changed both his residence and the direction of his career. He resigned from Hanley School of Art towards the end of 1886, and in 1888 moved to London and was afterwards engaged, almost exclusively, in architectural sculpture, working in stone, plaster and terracotta. He exhibited numerous architectural panels and played an important part in the movement to encourage closer co-operation between architect and sculptor.

Schenck's first work of major importance was the Council Chamber for the Municipal Buildings in Bath, (Architect: J. M. Brydon), completed in 1895, and described by Alastair Service, in his book Edwardian Architecture, as having 'a marvel of a ceiling'.

He formed a particularly close working relationship with the architect Henry Hare, and their first project together was the County Buildings at Stafford. Here, Schenck produced relief panels of classical figures for the walls and ceilings of several rooms including the Council Chamber and the Members' Room. Subsequently, in 1896, replicas of four of the panels, Agriculture, Pottery, Ironwork and Mining, were exhibited in the Royal Academy. Schenck's other works with Henry Hare included sculptured panels for the interior of the Oxford Town Hall (1897); exterior sculptures on the Municipal Buildings and Public Baths in Shoreditch (1899); and Crewe (1903); and the Central Libraries at Hammersmith (1904/5); and Islington (1905).

Working with the architect A. Beresford Pite, he also carved the sculptures on the beautifully proportioned corner site building at 37 Harley Street (1898), and on J. B. Dunn's building for The Scotsman, in Schenck's birthplace, Edinburgh (1904).

Schenck's last major work, again with Henry Hare, was Ingram House - the famous building of the United Provident Institution at 196, Strand (1906). This building, which was generally regarded as their masterpiece, was demolished in 1961.

Schenck died, from influenza, in London on 21st February 1908.

 

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