Although Pine’s career prospered, these early works do
not show any great artistic accomplishment. The portrait of
Crusoe owes its importance to its popularity rather than any
artistic merit. Some of the plates drawn and engraved by Pine
at this time, such as his illustrations for Edward Ward’s Nuptial
Dialogues, are clumsy in design and execution.
Pine’s skill as an artist began to grow under the influence
of the foreign artists he met in Slaughter’s Coffee House and
elsewhere. In 1720, he produced illustrations for a poem by
Joseph Mitchell on the biblical subject of Jonah. The illustrations
for Jonah show the influence of Bernard Picart (1673-
1733), a French engraver who had been forced to settle in
Amsterdam because of his interest in radical philosophical
and religious ideas. Pine probably became aware of Picart’s
work, because in 1720 Picart illustrated the first French edition
of Robinson Crusoe.
Pine was developing quickly as an artist, but nothing in
his earlier output prepares us for the most significant work
of his early career, the frontispiece of James Anderson’s 1723
Constitutions of the Free-Masons, the first Book of Constitutions
produced under the aegis of the Grand Lodge, established in
London six years previously.
The frontispiece was a prestigious commission. The
publisher of the book was John Senex, a leading scientific
publisher who produced works by Edmund Halley and the
leading popularisers of Newtonian thought, Jean Theophile
Desaguliers and Willem s’Gravesande.
Senex was one of the most accomplished globe and map
makers of the time, and also made scientific instruments. He
became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1728 His associate
in the publication of the Book of Constitutions, John Hooke,
also published scientific books.
Pine was the model for the friar
lusting after a joint of beef in the
painting by his fellow freemason,
William Hogarth, named, after a
popular song of the period, O The
Roast Beef of Old England or The
Gate of Calais.
(above) detail from O The Roast Beef of Old England
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Senex probably knew of Pine through his business associate
William Taylor, the publisher of Robinson Crusoe, but Pine
was not an obvious choice for the job. Many other prestigious
artists were also Freemasons, including the most celebrated
artist of the time, Sir James Thornhill, as well as Joseph
Highmore and Hogarth himself.
The frontispiece of the Book of Constitutions shows John,
2nd Duke of Montagu, Grand Master from 1721-1722, together
with his Deputy and Wardens, handing the Constitutions to
his successor, Phillip, Duke of Wharton, Grand Master 1722-
1723, who is also flanked by his Deputy and Wardens. Beneath
the figures is the 47th Proposition of Euclid.
The Grand Officers are framed in a classical setting representing
each of the orders of architecture, with the Sun God
Apollo in his fiery chariot above. The design and handling of
perspective is very striking. Underneath the picture are the
words ‘Engraved by John Pine in Aldersgate Street London’,
but the sophisticated treatment of the scene suggests it may
have been designed by someone else, perhaps Thornhill, who
designed an engraving of King Solomon with Hiram Abiff
used in various Masonic publications from 1725.