A decorative personification of Europe, accompanied by books and scientific instruments, from a series of four continents, was published in London in 1798 by John Fairburn.
John Fairburn (1789 – 1840; fl) was a British publisher and printer, active in London. He was known for this decorative mezzotints with heavy contemporary colour.
Mezzotint (meaning “middle colour”) was invented in 1642 by Ludwig von Siegen. It became popular especially between portrait engravers in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. With this demanding technique, which is a version of copper engraving, the artist has to stipple the surface of the copper plate and then smoothen the parts that later appear dark on the imprint. The result is a print without thick lines, typical for the copper engravings. The main characteristics of a mezzotint are soft lines, shadows with dark contrasts and tiny spots as a result of stippling.