George Virtue

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George C. Virtue (1794 – 8 December 1868) was a 19th-century London publisher, well known for printing engravings. His publishing house was located at 26 Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row, London, EC.[1]

W. H. Bartlett, "THE NARROWS, (From Fort Hamilton)," R. Wallis. London, Published for the Proprietors, by Geo. Virtue, 26, Ivy Lane, 1839.
W. H. Bartlett, "THE FERRY AT BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.", G. K. Richardson. London, Published for the Proprietors, by Geo. Virtue, 26, Ivy Lane, 1838.
American Scenery, 2 vols. 1840, W. H. Bartlett, "YALE COLLEGE" (Newhaven), J. Sands. London, Published for the Proprietors, by Geo. Virtue, 26, Ivy Lane, 1838.

Pictorial publisher[edit]

Virtue selected accomplished artists, employed the best engravers, and produced books that were rarely surpassed in elegance and correctness for the period. Chief among his publications were the following, all illustrated by William Henry Bartlett: Switzerland, by William Beattie, 2 vols. 1836; Scotland, by W. Beattie, 1838; The Waldenses, by W. Beattie, 1838; American Scenery, 2 vols. 1840; Description of the Beauties of the Bosphorus, by Julia Pardoe, 1840; and The Danube, its History and Scenery, by W. Beattie, 1844. Virtue created a prodigious business, issuing upwards of twenty thousand copper and steel engravings through his career.

Magazine publisher[edit]

In 1848, Virtue purchased two magazines. One was an art publication, The Art Union, which had been founded in 1839 by Hodgson & Graves, then purchased in 1847 by Chapman & Hall. The second purchase was controlling interest in Sharpe's London Magazine, a literary and cultural magazine, Arthur Hall publisher. In 1849, Virtue renamed the art magazine The Art Journal and, in time, it became known as the premier art publication of Great Britain. Also in 1849, he created a new firm with Arthur Hall called "Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co.".[2]

Publishing houses[edit]

  • George Virtue
    • 26 Ivy Lane, London
    • 25 Paternoster Row, London
    • 26 John Street, New York
  • Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co.


Virtue's wife was named Helen.[3]

Their oldest son, George Henry Virtue (d.1866), FSA, Esq., was Treasurer of the Royal Numismatic Society for several years.[4]

When Virtue retired from his publishing business in 1855, his second son, James Sprent Virtue, took over the business, having spent many years in the United States overseeing the Virtue's New York publishing house.

In 1861, the youngest son, William Alexander Virtue (d.1875), was promoted to Lieutenant, vice Turney, with the 39th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps..[5] In 1865, he became a partner in the Virtue's City Road and Ivy Lane publishing houses before moving to the United States and taking over the Virtue's New York publishing house, including "Virtue and Yorston" with Charles H. Yorston.[6]


Virtue's daughter, Frances Virtue (d.1878), married the English essayist and historian, James Augustus Cotter Morison in 1861. They had one son, Theodore Morison, principal of Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College from 1899–1905 which later on became Aligarh Muslim University and member of the Council of India from 1906; and daughters Helen Cotter, and Margaret.[8]

Community service[edit]

Virtue was a common councilman for the ward of Farringdon Within, and later was the Deputy of his ward. He was a member of the court of the Stationers' Company and a director of the Great Central Gas Company.


Virtue retired in Oatlands Park.[9] He died in 1868 at the home of his daughter, Frances Morison, on Porchester Square, London.[10] [11][12] Much of his correspondence and other family records are archived in the Smithsonian through a donation of documents by Virtue's great-great-grandson, Michael Virtue.[1]

Partial bibliography[edit]

Musical scores
  • Hogarth, G. (1850). The book of British song. London: George Virtue, OCLC 43226028  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Turle, J., & Taylor, E. (1848). A Collection of psalm and hymn tunes, comprising the best compositions in general use, and including many by eminent English and foreign musicians, which are now, for the first time, published in this country: harmonized for four voices, with an arrangement for the organ and pianoforte forming the first part of the People's music book. London: George Virtue., OCLC 57245096  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Armytage, J. C., & Warren, H. (1850). The Washington National Monument. London: George Virtue, OCLC 21000902  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Bartlett, W. H., Willmore, J. T., & Willis, N. P. (1838). Boston from the Dorchester Heights. London: Published for the Proprietors by Geo. Virtue, OCLC 57745958  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Bartlett, W. H., Wallis, R., & Virtue, G. (1837). View From West Point (Hudson River) (colored engraving). London: George Virtue, 26 Ivy Lane, OCLC 7251506  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Griffiths, H., Bartlett, W. H., & Willis, N. P. (1838). Faneuiel [sic] Hall, Boston. London: Published by Geo. Virtue, OCLC 57744083  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Hunt, T. W., Dubourjal, S. E., Bartlett, W. H., & Woodward, B. B. (1856). John Quincy Adams. New York: Published by George Virtue and Co., OCLC 57747319  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Lacey, S., Bartlett, W. H., & Willis, N. P. (1839). Saw mill at Centre Harbour (Lake Winnipesaukee). London: Published by Geo. Virtue, OCLC 57744145  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Lacey, S., Bartlett, W. H., & Willis, N. P. (1837). State Street, Boston. London: Published by Geo. Virtue, OCLC 57745594  Missing or empty |title= (help)


  1. ^ a b Brancato, Justin (December 1, 2004). "Eugene C. Worman Research Material on William H. Bartlett". Smithsonian, Archives of American Art. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  2. ^ "Original Drawings by W. H. Bartlett". Archived from the original on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  3. ^ Graves, Algernon (1972), The Royal Academy of Arts; a complete dictionary of contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, New York: B. Franklin, p. 27, ISBN 0-8337-1425-2, OCLC 403069 
  4. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine, 215, F. Jefferies, July–December 1863, p. 169 
  5. ^ Bulletins and other state intelligence (pdf), London gazette, 1861, p. 282, retrieved 2008-03-06 
  6. ^ Thompson, I. G.; Cook, R. D. (1874), Cases determined in the Supreme Court of New York. (pdf), Albany, N.Y.: J.D. Parsons, p. 441, OCLC 8423698, retrieved 2008-03-06 
  7. ^ Jacobi, C. T., Pennell, J., & Jacobi, C. T. (1892). Some notes on books and printing: a guide for authors. London: Chiswick Press, C. Whittingham; et al., OCLC 3680682  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "MORRISON/GILMOUR BIOS". Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  9. ^ The Gentlemen's Magazine, Printed by F. Jefferies, 1866, p. 415 
  10. ^ The art journal for 1869. New series., London: J.S. Virtue & Co., January 1869, p. 25, OCLC 54759600. 
  11. ^ The register and magazine of biography : a record of births, marriages, deaths and other genealogical and personal occurrences, London: Nichols and Sons, February 1869, p. 133, OCLC 181819611. 
  12. ^ "Personal and Literary" (PDF). New York Times. 1868-12-12. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Virtue, James Sprent". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.