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THE Work, of which the first part is now presented to the publick, is intended to consist of three volumes, each containing fifty engraved portraits : but each of these volumes, being wholly unconnected with the others, is in fact a complete work.
A series of engravings adapted equally to all the editions of our great dramatick Poet, which were published some time since by Messrs. Harding, and have met with very general approbation, gave rise to the BioGRAPHICAL MirrouR. Mr. Harding, while he was employed in copying such of the portraits of the principal characters in Shakspeare's Historical Plays as he could discover, having been honoured by the possessors of some of the most valuable collections in England with permission to make drawings of several very curious and interesting portraits of celebrated persons not connected with that poet's dramas, thought he should do an acceptable service to the Connoisseur and the Antiquary, by giving those perishable materials a more permanent form, and furnishing the publick with engravings from them, executed with fidelity and elegance.
Though our principal object has been to store our Repertory with engraved portraits of distinguished persons of various descriptions, from original pictures or drawings from which no engravings have hitherto been made, we have in a very few instances copied some curious prints, which from their extreme rarity are either unattainable, or not to be purchased but at an enormous price.
To the Noblemen and Gentlemen who in the most liberal manner have assisted this work with the use of original pictures and drawings, and with some biographical anecdotes, which have greatly added to its value,
the Proprietors return their sincere thanks ; and a second volume being now in considerable forwardness, they hope for a continuance of their favours; and shall be extremely obliged by any notices of original portraits or drawings hitherto unengraved, which, if accessible, will be copied with the utmost care and exactness.
Pall Mall, May 1, 1795.