Between 1733 and 1737, Pine was engaged on his masterpiece,
an edition of the works of Horace. Pine’s Horace is the
greatest achievement of 18th-century book art. Each part of
the hundreds of pages – from the elegant illustrations based on
classical jewels to the text itself – was engraved by Pine himself.
Such huge projects required lavish funding. In the 18th
century, this was obtained by collecting advance subscriptions
to the book, an activity in which Pine was a past master. The
subscription list to Pine’s Horace is a directory of London’s
social and intellectual stars, from the Prince of Wales to
Handel, Pope and Hogarth.
Pine’s contact as a Freemason with aristocrats such as the
Duke of Richmond and Lord Inchiquin, while they were
Grand Masters, assisted in building up these lists.
Pine’s entrepreneurial and artistic skills were vital in enabling
the surveyor John Rocque to produce the first detailed street
plan of London. Rocque’s scheme had foundered due to lack
of support, but Pine obtained the backing of the Royal Society
and the City Corporation, and again secured vital subscriptions.
Pine’s technical expertise as an engraver was essential in
preparing the 24 huge sheets of the map, which finally appeared
Pine’s achievements brought office and honour. In 1743,
he became Engraver of His Majesty’s Signet and Seals, and in
the following year Bluemantle Pursuivant in the College of
Arms. Hogarth’s depiction of him as ‘Friar Pine’ doubtless
(perhaps deliberately) threatened this hard-won respectability.
The prints of Hogarth containing references to Freemasonry
have been minutely studied. Yet the works of Pine more
effectively evoke the intellectual milieu of Freemasonry before
1750: the determination to recapture the ‘Augustan style’;
the concern with antiquity; and the fascination with the new
Pine emerges as a man who embodies the spirit of
early Freemasonry – intensely sociable but seeking in that
sociability to explore the new horizons offered by the
‘century of enlightenment’.
Professor Andrew Prescott is Director of the Centre for Research into
Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield
The first Engraved List of Lodges produced by Pine in 1725
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
The summer exhibition at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry,
John Pine: the Sociable Craftsman, gathers together for the first time
works representing all aspects of Pine’s output, and shows how his
various activities encapsulate different facets of the cultural and social
life of London at that time.
The exhibition runs from 5 July to 15 September 2004, Monday to
Friday (11am-5pm). Admission free (with a special Saturday opening
on 4 September). A series of associated events is being held in
conjunction with the exhibition. For more information contact 020
7395 9254 or visit www.freemasonry.london.museum/events.htm.
Web site created by Mark Griffin