Institutions for the Arts & Amusement
The Northumberland Institution

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Eneas Mackenzie

Year published

1827

Pages

575-590

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'Institutions for the Arts & Amusement: The Northumberland Institution', Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827), pp. 575-590. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43388 Date accessed: 19 September 2014.


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INSTITUTIONS FOR THE FINE ARTS, AMUSEMENT, &C.

NORTHUMBERLAND INSTITUTION FOR PROMOTING THE FINE ARTS IN NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

MUSIC and Painting possess the empire of the imagination: they fill us with pleasure, move us to pity, or inspire us with elevated sentiments. Yet men seldom reflect on the practical advantages derived from cultivating the taste. In the painting department of the Fine Arts, Newcastle certainly stands unrivalled amongst the provincial towns in Great Britain; (fn. 1) but, notwithstanding the many splendid and delightful specimens of genius conceived and executed by her native or adopted artists, she has been inexcusably backward in forming a proper establishment for fostering and creating talent. No gallery or exhibition-room has been provided for shewing either the productions of provincial talent, or the works of eminent artists. Accordingly, no pa-noramas have been exhibited in Newcastle for many years, nor could Haydon procure a place for shewing his famous picture of "Christ entering into Jerusalem." At length, Mr. T. M. Richardson fitted up the rooms at No. 3, Brunswick Place, for the private exhibition of his own paintings; but his anxiety for the general advance-ment of his art induced him to resign this project in favour of a public exhibition. This gave rise to the "Northumberland Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in the North of England." The first exhibition was opened on September 23, 1822. The Patrons of this Institution are, The Marquis of Londonderry; Earl Grey; the Bishop of Durham; Lord Ravenswoth; Earl Tankerville; the Hon. H. T. Liddell, M. P.; Sir M. W. Ridley, M. P, Sir C. Loraine, and Sir J. Swinburn, Barts.; M. Bell, Esq. M. P.; C. Ellison, Esq. M. P.; J. G. Lambton, Esq. M. P.; W. Ord, Esq. M. P.; Robert Bell, C. W. Bigge, William Clark, M. E. Davidson, H. Hew-itson, R. Pearson, and J. Trevelyan, Esqrs.; Major Anderson; and the Revds. M. N. Darnell and C. Thorp. The President, Edward Swinburn, Esq.; Treasurer, T. M. Richardson; Secretary, H. P. Parker; and a committee, consisting of twenty artists and connoisseurs.

This Institution has been opened every year since its commencement, and has contained many local productions of the pencil that might challenge approbation amid the happiest efforts of metropolitan genius. The success of this experiment naturally excited a wish for apartments more adapted for the purpose, and for such improved arrangements as might embrace the interests of all parties, give a new stimulus to genius, and, in some degree, reward pre-eminent merit.

This desideratum will probably soon be supplied, as the fine arts are, in this district, attracting a degree of notice unknown in former times. Encouraged by this feeling, it is proposed to erect commodious exhibition-rooms in Blackett Street, adjoining to the Joiners' Hall, with an ornamental stone front, having two wings, each of which may be inhabited by an artist. The mayor and common council, who have lately shewn a laudable desire to encourage the arts, have offered for £20 the ground where the pant now stands, and which it is proposed to arch over, and leave open towards High Friar Street. The intended edifice has been planned by that spirited builder, Mr. Grainger, and has been approved of by Messrs. Richardson and Parker. The plan on which this building is to be erected will, it is understood, be liberal and unexceptionable. A subscriber of one share of £20 will be entitled to three per cent. and have free admission to all exhibitions. A subscriber for more than one share to have free admission for himself, and one friend for each share above the first. It is, however, to be apprehended, that when interest, attendance, repairs, taxes, and other expenses, are paid, little will remain to purchase pictures, or to give prizes as a stimulus to the advancement of the art. Something important might be effected, were the many noble and opulent patrons of the Northumberland Institution, the corporation, and the admirers of the fine arts generally in the north of England, to give liberal donations towards this contemplated public establishment. (fn. 2)

Footnotes

1 Robert Watson, artist and engineer, was the son of Joseph Watson, a member of the Free Porters' Company in Newcastle. His mother made sausages in the Flesh Market. Robert was born on April 20, 1755. At an early age, he evinced such a fondness for drawing, that, after his education was finished, his parents apprenticed him to a coach-painter. Fortunately, his master's indiscretions soon set him at liberty from a situation so ill suited to the sublimity of his genius; and, leaving his native town, he went to London, where he became an industrious student in the Royal Academy. After acquiring great skill in anatomy and perspective, with their application to historical composition, he, in 1778, obtained the gold pallet from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts for the best historical drawing. In 1780, he published under the title of "An Anticipation of the Exhibition of the Royal Academy," a critique on the best performances of our most celebrated artists, and which displays ample proofs of the versatility of his genius. This work deserves a distinguished place in every artist's library, and may be placed with the works of Leonardo da Vinci. Fresnoy. Reynolds, and Chambers, without suffering by a comparison with the able productions of these celebrated writers. The talents he displayed in this work procured him powerful patronage, and the friendship of Sir William Fordyce, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Mason the poet, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and other eminent men. During one of his annual visits to Newcastle, he happened to read Drs. Price and Priestley's friendly controversy on Materialism, which gave rise to his "Essay on the Nature and Existence of the Material World," in which he seems to advocate the Berkleian system, contending, "I. That no property of matter can resemble sensation, otherwise such property of matter would possess sensation. II. That it appears a fact they do not possess it; for (1) scents and sounds do not resemble their respective causes, but are referable to motion; (2) colour is reducible to the same, and likewise (3) solidity or hardness; (4) figure, as discernible either by sight or touch, is known only by a variety of ideas or impressions being included in one perception." The Monthly Reviewers bestow praise on Mr. Watson, for the great acuteness and pleasing vivacity displayed in this metaphysical essay. Shortly after this, he accepted a proposal made him to go to India in the capacity of an engineer, and where he arrived, in 1783, in time to procrastinate the defence of Fort Osnaburgh, for the garrison of which he obtained very honourable, terms of capitulation, when he was seized with a fever that terminated his existence in the 28th year of his age. On leaving England, he left a tragedy in the hands of the managers of one of the London theatres, who, on their part, promised to bring it out as speedily as possible; but all the efforts of his friends after his death to recover the manuscript proved unavailing. Whoever reflects on his sound judgment, and the strength and originality of his genius, must lament the loss of a work by which he undoubtedly hoped to perpetuate his memory.—Chiefly from a MS. Memoir by the late Mr. David Stephenson, read to the Lit. and Phil. Society of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1794.
William Bell, an eminent painter, was a native of Newcastle, where his father was an ingenious bookbinder. Mr. Bell went to London about the year 1768, and was amongst the first of those who entered as students in the Royal Academy; and when the gold medal was offered by the council for the best historical picture, he became a candidate, but failed. In 1771, he renewed the attempt, and succeeded, being presented with the gold medal by Sir Joshua Reynolds for the best historical painting; the subject, Venus soliciting Vulcan to forge the armour of Æneas. The figures were all portraits; William Carr, the herculean smith of Blyth, being Vulcan. This picture was disposed of by raffle. Mr. Bell's draperies were so remarkably fine, that Sir Joshua offered him an engagement in this department of the art. He was patronised by Sir John Delaval (afterwards Lord Delaval), and, while he was in London, resided at his lordship's house. In 1775, he exhibited two views of Seaton Delaval, his patron's seat in Northumberland. At this splendid house were several whole-length portraits of his lordship's family, which were painted by this artist. After leaving his lordship, who gave him £50 a year and a cottage to live in for his work, he resided at Newcastle as a portraitpainter, in which profession he was but indifferently supported, though his portraits were extremely accurate and beautifully finished. He also taught drawing in the Back Row. He died about 1800, aged nearly 60 years.
Benjamin Wilson, F. R. S. studied the art of engraving in Newcastle, where he acquired great eminence as a portrait engraver. His family belonged to Yorkshire, and his brother died recorder of Pomfret. Mr. Wilson, having turned his attention to painting, left Newcastle about the year 1753, and in the metropolis soon became distinguished for talents of a very superior order. Being patronized by his majesty, he was chosen painter and draughtsman to the Board of Ordnance, in which situation he accumulated a great fortune. But his genius was not confined to the works of the pencil, for he understood and wrote on subjects connected with Natural Philosophy, and was a member of several learned societies. He combated Dr. Franklin's opinion relative to the best form of electrical conductors; but the result of an experiment at the Pantheon shewed that the American points were safer than the English balls. Mr. Wilson's eldest son, the present Sir Robert Wilson, M. P. for Southwark, was born in 1777, and commenced his military career in 1793, as lieutenant in the 15th Light Dragoons. His daughter, who was left a fortune of 5 or £6000, married Lieut. Col. Boswell, the younger brother of Lady Dudley and Ward, and after his death became the wife of Colonel Campbell. Another son also entered into the army. Mr. Wilson died in 1788.
George Gray, fruit-painter, was the son of Gilbert Gray, an eccentric but very worthy character, who was born in Scotland early in the last century. He received a good education, and, being destined for the Kirk, studied for some time at the college of Aberdeen. Acquiring a dislike for the work of the ministry, Gilbert turned his attention to the bookbinding business, and was engaged as shopman to Allan Ramsay, at the time he composed his Gentle Shepherd. In Newcastle, he pursued his business with the most exemplary industry, and was first employed by Messrs. Bryson and Charnley, and next by Mr. Slack, and his successor, Mr. Solomon Hodgson, during nearly 40 years, in the various capacities of reader, warehouseman, and bookbinder. He also manufactured great quantities of Dr. Anderson's Scotch Pills, which he sold to Mr. Slack by the bushel. Some of his other speculations were less profitable, particularly an attempt made with one Brown to manufacture paper, in Pandon Dean, from paper shavings. He was equally conspicuous for abilities, industry, vivacity, and benevolence. His dislike of priests led him to republish "The Independent Whig." in numbers. He also wrote and published "The Countryman's Treasure." on curing the disorders of domestic animals; "Multum in Parvo," consisting of moral axioms; "The Complete Fabulist;" and an "Epitome of the History of England," for the use of schools, which is thought to have been the first book of the kind published. He offered his works for sale, in a cheap form, to country people who attended the market on Saturdays. His mode of living was singular and economical. He varied his favourite dish of hasty-pudding with pease, which usually stood in a bowl near to him while at work, and which, with water, satisfied the wants of nature. He scarcely ever tasted animal food; and on being once presented with a goose, it was salted, hung up, and cut into slices and broiled as wanted. If ever he ventured into a public house with his friends, he strictly limited himself to one pint of ale. When drowsy, he lay down; and, when refreshed, he rose up, without any regard to time or custom. His savings were generally applied in releasing from prison some poor, honest, unfortunate debtor; but he was frequently imposed upon by the artful tales of his countrymen, all of whom at last he viewed with undiscriminating suspicion. In Newcastle, he married a woman called Wallace, and, some time after her death, another named Spence, by whom he had three sons, George, William, and John. William learned to be an excellent bookbinder; but being exceedingly active and impetuous, he enlisted into the army. He was soon distinguished for acuteness and intelligence, and was at one time sent from Plymouth into Ireland to report on circumstances connected with the military hospitals. He at last retired to London on a good pension. John was bound to Mr. J. Barber, bookseller, at Amen Corner; but he chose rather to serve on board a man-of-war than in Mr. Barber's shop. At last, old Gilbert, having constantly attended his wife during a severe sickness for 14 days and nights, was so completely exhausted by long watching, that nature was unable to rally, and he died on Wednesday, February 12th, 1794, aged, it was said, 85 years, though his most intimate friends believed that his age approached nearer to 95 years. In early life he had embraced the tenets of the Quakers; and he always retained the calm, deliberate, and punctual manners of that sect. His wife admired and practised his principles of abstemiousness and charity; and they lived together in a state of uncommon felicity.
George Gray, the eldest son of Gilbert, was born in 1758, and educated at the Grammar-school of his native town. His fondness for drawing induced his father to place him under the care of Mr. Jones, an eminent fruit-painter; but before the completion of his apprenticeship, his master removed to York, accompanied by his apprentice. In a short time, Mr. Jones found it necessary to abandon that city also, when George returned to Newcastle. Being now at liberty, and able to live at a trifling expense, he had leisure to pursue his favourite studies in botany, mineralogy, and chemistry. Having acquired considerable skill in these branches of natural history, he resolved to go to North America upon a botanizing excursion. For this purpose, he sailed from Whitehaven in 1787; and, after traversing the northern wilds of the New Contment, and observing the modes of savage life, he returned to Newcastle. In 1791, he was engaged, with a Mr. M'Nab, by Prince Pouiatowsky, to examine and report upon the geology of Poland; but the luxurious and expensive mode of travelling adopted by his companion was so disgusting to George, that he abandoned the enterprise near Cracow. When Major Anderson projected a tour through Iceland, &c. Mr. Gray was engaged to accompany him as a botanist, geologist, and draughtsman; but his notions of independence and equality disqualified him from acting in any subordinate capacity, and he relinquished this situation in dis-gust. In 1794, he opened a shop in Dean Street, as "a portrait, fruit, house, and sign painter;" but his want of capital, and his contempt for the forms and courteies of business, induced him to resign this project also. After this, he lived very retired, and devoted much of his time to chemical researches. Some of his discoveries, particularly two on making bread from roots, he communicated to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle. He was long engaged in making an improved ink for printers; and the last Lord Stanhope took out a caveat for his substitute for oak bark. His proper business of painting and teaching drawing he followed only so far as was absolutely necessary. Many of his fruit pieces were exquisite, and exhibited a natural transparency of texture seldom attained. He always endeavoured to practise his father's abstemiousness, and to avoid eating with his gormandizing acquaintances. He certainly enjoyed the conviviality of a little circle of clever men; but, on one occasion, he was obliged to fly to Sunderland, in order to escape the temptations to which he was exposed by his jolly companions. A female was never permitted to cross his threshold; but, after he had struggled for a time with a severe fit of sickness in his solitary apartment, he began to think that "it is not good for man to be alone." He therefore married a Mrs. Dobie, the widow of a poor shoemaker; but, on her death, he declared that all the riches of Mexico and Peru should not tempt him to repeat the experiment. Shortly after, he himself died at his house in the Pudding Chare, on December 9, 1819, in the 61st year of his age. Though his habits were eccentric, he was highly respected for his abilities, wit, and nice sense of honour. His portrait was taken by Mr. Nicholson, in a masterly style.
Robert Barker, portrait painter, was the son of an upholsterer in Newcastle, who originally came from Dublin. In early life, he evinced a taste for the fine arts. Not having sufficient employment as a miniature painter and drawing-master, he opened a shop at the foot of the Middle Street, where he sold glass, china, paints, and prints, and made pomatum and other articles of perfumery. He was peculiarly active, inventive, and speculative, and sould not attend to the mill-horse routine of business. In 1784, he became a bankrupt, and shortly afterwards removed to Edinburgh, where he practised as a portrait painter until 1787, when he took out a patent for his new invention, called La Nature a Coup d'Oeil, since the Panorama, from two Greek words, signifying "every thing," and "to see." By this ingenious contrivance, pictures are painted in distemper on the inside of a cylindrical surface, and the eye being placed in the axis of the cylinder, a striking resemblance to reality is produced. The first picture of this kind executed by Mr. Barker was a view of Edinburgh, which he exhibited in that city in 1788. After this, he commenced similar exhibitions in London, and was ultimately enabled to build a commodious house for that purpose in Leicester Square. He died on April 6, 1806, leaving two sons, one of whom, named Robert, has continued this species of exhibition. He served his apprenticeship on board the Cumberland, of Newcastle, and afterwards was promoted to be master. He took several interesting views when in foreign ports.
John Martin, Esq. historical painter to his majesty, was born on July 19, 1787, of a Northumberland family, then residing at Low Land Ends, near Haydon Bridge, in Warden parish. His grandfather held an extensive farm under the Duke of Argyle for a trifling acknowledgment, in order that the tenants of his grace might profit by the example of the English improved mode of husbandry. His father was a skilful tanner, and for some time conducted a large tannery at Bridge End, near the town of Ayr in Scotland. John, who was one of twelve children, was, when very young, sent to the free grammar-school at Haydon Bridge. One day, while the three masters of this establishment were standing together, he took a burnt stick, and sketched the group on the wall near the fire-place. The surprise and admiration expressed by both teachers and scholars at the excellence of this juvenile effort, must have operated powerfully on his aspiring mind. When removed to the writing-school, he copied the engraved alphabet with surprising accuracy, though he knew only a few of the characters. About the 14th year of his age, his parents settled in Newcastle, which circumstance decided his destiny. He had already surpassed, in drawing, his eldest brother William, who sometimes amused himself with that art; and now the signs suspended before the inns became the objects of his emulation. He would even leave boyish athletic sports, of which he was remarkably fond, to see a drawing or a painting. His parents, who then lived at the White Cross, were reluctantly obliged to comply with this ruling inclination; and he was apprenticed to Mr. Wilson, coach-maker, as a herald painter. Having a dispute with his master, his indentures were cancelled. He then applied himself most sedulously to drawing and perspective, in which he received much encouragement and assistance from Mr. Muss, (father of the late Mr. Charles Muss, the enameller), and in 1804, at the age of 17, ventured to London, with a small landscape and a portrait of his friend Muss, as specimens of his skill, and a letter of recommendation to Mr. Muss, jun. Under this young artist, he soon distinguished himself; though he secretly sighed for eminence in the highest department of the pictorial art. After spending the day upon a tea-cup or a vase, he employed his evenings in embodying his own bold and romantic conceptions. These pieces were generally made in sepia, in the working of which he has excelled every artist of his time. Before he had completed his 20th year, he ventured upon matrimony, which proceeding increased his difficulties, while it animated his exertions. At this time, he executed some very beautiful drawings, which were much admired by the late Earl of Warwick and the late Princess Charlotte; but these testimonies rather flatteied than satisfied his aspiring ambition, for he aimed at the premium annually given for the best historical painting. His first essays were unsuccessful, for few could discern in his new style the bursting irregular energies of superior genius. The first picture that attracted any considerable praise was Zadoc in search of the Waters of Oblivion, purchased by William Manning, Esq. the bank director. This was followed by Adam and Eve entertaining the Angel Raphael in Paradise; a most elegant, romantic, and magnificent production. His third grand effort was Joshua commanding the Sun to stand still, first exhibited at the Royal Academy, and the year after at the British Gallery, where it obtained the premium. His next picture was the Destruction of Babylon, exhibited in the British Gallery, and purchased by H. P. Hope, Esq. for 400 guineas. It embodies all that is most terrible and sublime. Mr. Martin's next grand picture was Belshazzar's Feast, which raised him to the highest pitch of celebrity. On its being exhibited in the British Gallery, he was presented by the directors with a premium of 200 guineas. By circumstances of a disgraceful nature, it was prevented from becoming the property of the Duke of Buckingham, and above 50,000 persons paid the purchasers for admission to see it. The Destruction of Herculaneum, one of the noblest efforts of genius, was sold to the Duke of Buckingham for 800 guineas, though the artist was three times offered 1000 guineas for it. The Deluge, which he afterwards executed, displays a number of the most terrific conceptions; and his Macbeth, which was exhibited in Newcastle, "is full of the wild imagination, tremendous breadth and power, fine perspective, and beautiful colouring, for which he is so famous." But Mr. Martin's genius is not confined to one department of the arts. He also excels in etching, as is shewn by the beautiful studies of the foliage of trees, published by Ackerman; and his engravings in mezzotinto are certainly inimitable. The prints published of Belshazzar's Feast, Joshua, and the Paphian Bower, were never surpassed. By a rare effort of art, he has wholly composed and designed upon the plates 24 mezzotinto engravings, illustrative of Milton's Paradise Lost, in a style of unrivalled beauty and sublimity. All his productions are original. While sketching his outlines, Mrs. Martin attends to read particular passages of the poet whose stupendous and preternatural imagery he has undertaken to embody, and his mighty imagination is never found unequal to the task. It is to be hoped that Mr. Martin will long continue in the same brilliant career, reflecting additional honour on the place of his birth, and the town in which his latent excellencies first began to expand.
Charles Muss, the celebrated painter on enamel, received most of his professional education in Newcastle. His father, Boniface Muss, was a native of Piedmont, and his mother belonged to Florence. Mr. B. Muss came to Newcastle in 1790, with very respectable recommendations, and was well patronised as a painter and drawing-master. Though extremely indolent, he was a skilful artist, and a generous, liberal-minded man, and was particularly anxious to foster rising genius. His daughter painted and etched several local views. Charles commenced business as a miniature painter, and devoted his leisure time to the making of experiments in enamelling. Having, by his genius and industry, acquired considerable skill in this rare and beautiful art, he went to London, where he long struggled against a variety of difficulties; but just as he had surmounted them, and patronage and fortune made the world's prospects brighten before him, he was quickly cut off by an acute disorder in 1824, and before he had completed his 43d year. The Battle of Nevil's Cross, which adorns a window in Branspeth Castle, co. of Durham, is alone sufficient to perpetuate his reputation. He left several beautiful enamels, which have been finished under the direction of his distinguished pupil, John Martin, Esq. whose generous attention to the interests of the widow reflects the highest honour on the profession. Mr. Muss's splendid Holy Family, after Parmegiano, the largest enamel ever painted, was purchased by his majesty for 1600 guineas; which sum, being placed in the bank that failed on the detection of the crimes of Fauntleroy, one of the partners, was unfortunately lost to the artist's family.
Thomas Miles Richardson, landscape painter, was born in Newcastle on May 15, 1784. At the usual age, he was bound apprentice to a joiner and cabinet maker; but he had imbibed an irresistible taste for drawing and painting, and his evenings were devoted to the study of such copies as he could procure. His father, who was master of St. Andrew's free-school, died in 1806, when he was chosen his successor. This situation was peculiarly acceptable to him, as it afforded more opportunities for improvement, and was more consonant with the profession of a drawing-master, which he had now assumed. After practising in this way about seven years, his abilities became generally known, and he resigned the free-school, in order to appropriate his whole time to the profession he had chosen. His first remarkable picture was "Newcastle from Gateshead Fell," which the corporation of this town bought for 50 guineas. His other most masterly productions are, "Scotch Peasants washing on the Banks of the Dochart," a fine picture, sold at Leeds for 60 guineas; "Edinburgh Castle from the Grass Market," bought by Sir Thomas Beckett, banker, Leeds; "Fish-boats at Newcastle Quay," a happy effort, sold to the Hon. H. T. Liddell for 50 guineas; "St. Nicholas' Church," purchased by Lord Ravensworth; and "Linlithgow from the Canal," by Major Mouncy. "Wreck at Shields," bought by the Rev. T. N. Hollingsworth, vicar of Haltwhistle, and "Storm at Tynemouth," now exhibiting at the British Institution, are inimitable sea pieces, and may be referred to with pride by his fellow townsmen. But his "View of Greenwich from the Thames," exhibited last year in the Northumberland Institution, is perhaps his most finished production, and is sufficient to entitle him to distinction amongst the first-rate artists of the age. One of his water-colour drawings is in the Mansion-house, and for which he received 20 guineas; but, being varnished, it is entirely spoiled. Mr. Richardson is universally admitted to excel in paiuting ruins and castles; and his sun-sets are indescribably beautiful. His proficiency is the more surprising, as he never received any instructions, nor ever saw an exhibition until the 28th year of his age, when on a visit to London for ill health. His son George promises also to be an excellent artist; but he enjoys many valuable facilities for improvement.
Henry Perlee Parker, portrait and animal painter, was born at Plymouth Dock (now Devonport) on March 15, 1795. After acquiring some knowledge of drawing from his father, who taught marine and mechanical drawing, he ventured to commence as portrait painter; but his ardour was chilled and his hopes repressed by the coldness and indifference of his townsmen. Before the completion of his 20th year, he accompanied his wife on a visit to Sunderland, when he resolved to try his fortune in Newcastle. Here he has received the kindest and most flattering support, through all the stages of his professional career, to the present respectable rank he holds amongst living artists. Comparing his first efforts here with his present productions, it appears evident that his industry and perseverance must have been very exemplary. His first picture that attracted general notice was, "The Eccentric Characters of Newcastle," (fn. 3) bought by the late C. J. Brandling, Esq. M. P. The "Coronation Festivity," purchased in the British Gallery for the corporation of Newcastle, obtained great approbation for its variety and character; and the metropolitan critics confessed that it contained much of Hogarth's satirical discernment. "Davie Deans rejecting Butler's Advice," a very excellent picture, was sold in the British Gallery to J. Banks, Esq. Dumbiedikes was copied from Mr. Holland, comedian. "The Village Raffle," was also sold in the British Gallery to H. Hewitson, Esq. Seaton Burn, Northumberland. "The Baggage Waggon," a composition finely imagined and ably executed, was purchased by the Earl of Lonsdale, in the Carlisle Exhibition. "Shipwrecked Smugglers,"— "Smugglers alarmed,"—A Smuggler resting,"— "A Smuggler's Head," and "A Covenanter," are picturesque conceptions most admirably executed. The artist has introduced his father's portrait for the Smuggler and Covenanter; and certainly a finer head could not have been selected. All these pictures sold well: the Covenanter was purchased on the first day it was exhibited in the Royal Institution of Edinburgh. "Brinkburn Priory," the property of Dixon Dixon, Esq.; "The Laird of Milnwood," in the possession of M. Bell, Esq, M. P.; and "The Porteus Mob breaking into the Tolbooth at Edinburgh," are likewise happy productions of this variously gifted artist. "A Poacher watching," has just been purchased in the British Gallery by the Marquis of Stafford. Mr. Parker is now engaged in painting the "Northumberland Hunt," which will contain thirty portraits; and from his excellence in catching the likenesses of persons and animals, this picture also will no doubt add to his well-earned fame.
John Wilson Carmichael, painter and drawing master, was born at the Ouseburn, in Newcastle, on June 9, 1800, and is the son of William Carmichael, a ship-carpenter. At an early age, he went to sea, and was, during three years, on board a transport, which was engaged to sail between different ports in Spain and Portugal. On his return, he was apprenticed to Messrs. Farrington, ship-builders. He had always been fond of drawing, and now he applied himself closely to that kind of mechanical drawing so useful in his business. His unaided efforts in this line were much applauded by his masters, and Mr. Joseph Farrington bought him the first box of water-colours he ever possessed. After completing his apprenticeship, he devoted all his leisure time to his improvement in the pictorial art; and at last, abandoning the carpentry business, he commenced his favourite pursuit as a drawing-master and miniature painter. His first effort in the historical line that attracted public notice was the Fight between the Shannon and Chesapeake, which sold for 13 guineas. The Bombardment of Algiers, a very difficult subject, was painted for the Master and Brethren of the Trinity-house, and for which he received 40 guineas. His last great picture is a View of Newcastle, now in the Mansion-house, and for which the corporation paid the young artist 100 guineas. This is a wonderful performance, when it is considered that not more than two years had elapsed since he first began to paint in oil colours. He is now engaged in painting the Aquatic Show on Ascension Thursday, and which is to contain 80 portraits. It may be confidently predicted, that the industry, genius, and enthusiasm of this artist, will ultimately raise him to a very high rank in the profession he has chosen.
William Nicholson, portrait painter, was born at Ovingham; but his father, who was a respectable schoolmaster, shortly after removed to Newcastle, where William received his education. On leaving school, he was engaged in the shop of Mr. Sands, stationer; but his predilection for the pictorial art continuing to gain ground, he was placed under the care of Mr. B. Muss, where he made considerable proficiency. He first commenced business as a painter of miniatures, and lived a short time at Hull with his brother, who had learned engraving under Mr. A. Hunter, of Newcastle. On his return, he painted portraits in oil; and having become eminent in that line, he removed to Edinburgh, where his high talents have been justly appreciated. In "Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk," (vol. ii. page 293,) the writer says. Nicholson's "delicate taste in conceiving a subject, and general felicity in executing it, do not always receive so much praise as they should, on account of a little carelessness in regard to drawing, which might be very easily corrected. You must have seen many etchings of his pictures. Mr. Nicholson is also a very charming miniature painter. Indeed, he has no rival in that department but Mr. Thompson." His brother lives in the same city, and is extensively patronised in his business of house and ornamental painting.
John Ewbank, landscape painter, is the son of Michael Ewbank, of Gateshead, inn-keeper. He was born at Darlington, on May 4, 1799; but his parents removed to this place in 1804. When only three or four years of age, he displayed an extraordinary aptitude in drawing various objects. His increasing dexterity in handling the pencil induced his parents to bind him apprentice to Mr. Thomas Coulson, of Newcastle, an eminent house-painter, and whom he accompanied to Edinburgh about the year 1816. His master encouraged the expansion of his genius; and, by his advice, Mr. Ewbank took some lessons of Mr. Nasmyth of that city. On completing his apprenticeship, he devoted his time and talents to the higher departments of painting. His principal historical paintings are, "Alexander's Entry into Babylon," a sublime and magnificent production; and "The King's Entry into Edinburgh," sold in that city, at the late exhibition of the Royal Institution, for 120 guineas: but some think the "Calm" his chef d'æuvre. Several of his interesting views, taken at the "Modern Athens," have been published. His black lead drawings are inimitably fine, and possess all the delicacy and beauty of highly-finished engravings. In short, Mr. Ewbank is destined to occupy a very distinguished place in his profession.
Andrew Morton, portrait painter, the son of Joseph Morton, of Newcastle, ship-owner, was born in June, 1802. After receiving a good education in his native town, he went to London, and entered as a student in the Royal Academy, in which he obtained a premium for the best drawing from a model. His portraits display much truth and delicacy of colouring. That of Dr. Hutton, which he presented to the Literary and Philosophical Society, is admitted to be an excellent likeness; but the head of his friend, Mr. W. Harvey, artist, is perhaps his most spirited and successful production in this line. Mr. Morton has attempted almost every species of painting, in all of which he has evinced much accuracy of conception and fertility of invention; so that when he fixes on some particular branch, he is sure to rise into excellence.
Alexander Dalziel, painter, was born at Wooler in Northumberland, and resided there, as a gardener and seedsman, until October, 1823, when, in his 42d year, he removed to Newcastle, to pursue the profession of painting. Considering that he is altogether self-taught, has lived in a part of the county remote from artists or their works, and under the pressure of a large family, his paintings of fish and some other objects of still life are really surprising productions.
Ralph Beilby, engraver, was born in Durham, on August 12, 1743, and was educated at the grammarschool of that city. He was the son of William Beilby, a respectable jeweller and silversmith, who belonged to Scarborough, and who, after commencing business in Durham, married the daughter of Alderman Bainbridge. Being unsuccessful in business, he removed to Newcastle, where his well-educated sons introduced a taste for the fine arts, which forms an epoch in the intellectual history of the town. Richard, one of his sons, had learned the useful art of tool-making at Birmingham; and another, named William, acquired a knowledge of enamelling at the same place. His enamels upon glass at Newcastle were most exquisitely beautiful, and justly excited the admiration of all the nobility and gentry in the neighbourhood. With his younger brother, Thomas, he gave instructions in drawing, in which art they both excelled. After some years' practice in the arts, William migrated to London, and opened a boarding-school at Battersea, where he was settled in 1784. Having married the niece of Mr. Falconer, a rich manufacturer in London, who afterwards purchased a large estate in Fifeshire, Scotland, he removed to that place, where he displayed the versatility of his genius by conducting the agricultural improvements upon his uncle's property. An aunt of his wife having bequeathed her a considerable fortune, he removed to Hull, where he died on October 7, 1819, aged 81 years. Thomas went to Birmingham, where he was eminent as a manufacturer and factor for nearly 50 years. One of his sons was of the firm of Beilby and Knott, wholesale stationers, London; and died at Ashsted House, his country residence, near Birmingham, on November 18, 1826. Another is a physician in Edinburgh. Mary, a daughter of Mr. Beilby, taught drawing to the young ladies of Newcastle with great success, but died young. Another Miss Beilby married a Mr. Watson, of London, clerk in the Treasury Office.
We now return to Ralph, who had learned to be a silversmith, jeweller, and seal-engraver, under his father. In Newcastle, he became the common resource in several useful arts and accomplishments. To the engraving of arms and letters on seals and silver plate, he added engraving on copper, as there were at that time no engravers in the north of England. (fn. 4) In 1768, Dr. Hutton applied to him to execute the numerous wooden diagrams in his large work on Mensuration. Mr. Hutton had seen wood engraving executed in London; and, from his description, Mr. Beilby, who was an excellent artist in the making and tempering of tools, contrived what was necessary to cut out the lines and figures wanted. His apprentice, Mr. Thomas Bewick, exhibited an uncommon aptitude in this kind of engraving; and, being kindly encouraged by his master, he also invented many new tools, so that all the diagrams for Hutton's five volumes of the Repository were executed with facility and accuracy, likewise the diagrams for Horsley's edition of the works of Sir Isaac Newton. In 1777, Mr. Beilby took his former apprentice into partnership, which connexion continued for upwards of 20 years. Mr. Beilby afterwards joined Messrs. Langlands and Robertson in establishing a watch-glass manufactory; but, on the decline of Mr. Robertson, Mr. Hawthorn joined the firm. On their premises in Bell's Court being destroyed by fire in 1806, they erected more commodious buildings in Orchard Street, and added to their former business the manufactory of clock-works. But Mr. Beilby's love of retirement induced him to decline the bustle and cares of business some years before his death.
Mr. Beilby executed heraldic engravings with extraordinary facility; and his plate of "Thornton's Monument," in Brand's History of Newcastle, shews that he also possessed considerable skill in engraving upon copper. But he was most distinguished for his literary and scientific acquirements. The History of Quadrupeds, with wood cuts by his partner Bewick, and the first volume of British Birds, with its elegant preface, are honourable specimens of his skill in composition. He also understood the science of music well, and in his youth played double bass at the Rev. Dr. Brown's concerts. He was one of the first and warmest promoters of the Literary and Philosophical Society, and was, during many years, a member of its committees. From his integrity, gentleness, and intelligence, he was highly esteemed in the respectable circle of friends in which he moved. His useful life was closed on January 4, 1817, in the 74th year of his age. He married Ellen, daughter of John Hawthorn, of Newcastle, watch-maker, who is still living.
Thomas Bewick, engraver on wood, whom Wordsworth calls "The genius that dwells on the banks of the Tyne," was born on August 12, 1753, at Cherryburn, in the parish of Ovingham, about 14 miles west from Newcastle. His father, John Bewick, who was distinguished for acuteness and wit, had the landsale colliery of Mickley Bank for many years. It is now in the possession of his son William. Both Thomas, and his ingenious younger brother John, (fn. 5) were educated at Ovingham school by the Rev. Christopher Gregson. While a school-boy, the pencil was his favourite amusement; and the surprising accuracy with which he delineated the objects around him decided his father, in 1767, to bind him apprentice to the late Mr. Beilby, of Newcastle, engraver. Though he never had received any instructions in drawing, he was employed by his master to draw Copeland's Heraldic Ornaments. Fortunately, at this time, his master undertook to cut on wood the diagrams for Hutton's Mensuration; and Bewick engaged in the enterprise with that feeling of enthusiasm that led to a revival of the art of wood-engraving. In his experiments, he soon found that wood was much better adapted than copper to express the ease, freedom, and spirit that ought to characterise portraits of animated being. The tools he invented were extremely ingenious and effective, and some of them were evidently unknown to the best old masters. In 1775, he received a premium from the Society of Arts for his engravings on wood, amongst which the "Old Hound" was particularly noticed. In the following year, he went to see a relation in Cumberland, and to fish in the trout streams of that county, an amusement of which he was passionately fond, when he conceived the design of making a pedestrian tour through the Highlands of Scotland. Being singularly strong and athletic, and accustomed to subsist on the humblest fare, this undertaking presented to his mind no difficulties that merited consideration. He therefore immediately entered Scotland; and, no doubt, the grand and romantic scenery of its mountains, and the hospitable, unsophisticated habits of the people, operated strongly on his imagination. On his return, he went to London; but, disgusted with the vanity, arrogance, and selfishness of the wood engravers in the proud metropolis, he quickly returned to Newcastle. In 1777, he entered into partnership with his former master, Mr. Beilby, under the firm of Beilby and Bewick. Their first great work, the History of Quadrupeds, published in 1790, raised the art of wood-engraving into high estimation. Shortly after, Mr. William Bulmer (a native of Newcastle), whose elegant and spirited productions in printing form an era in the art, determined to give the world some unique specimens of type and block printing. For this purpose, he engaged Thomas and John Bewick (the latter of whom had studied under his elder brother) to engrave a set of cuts to embellish Goldsmith's Traveller and Deserted Village, and Parnell's Hermit. These poems were published in 1795; and the peculiar neatness of the printing, with the beauty and novelty of the engravings, obtained general approbation. In 1796, the Chase of Somerville was published in a similar manner, with an increase of fame for the brother artists; but Mr. Bulmer had the painful task of announcing the death of his friend, John Bewick, who died of a pulmonary complaint in December, 1795. In 1797 was published the first volume of the History of British Birds, containing the Land Birds, and which is by many considered the best of Mr. Bewick's works. Immediately after this, the partnership between Messrs. Beilby and Bewick was dissolved; and the compilation and completion of the second volume, containing the History of British Water Birds, devolved upon Mr. Bewick alone. From various unforeseen obstacles, this did not appear until the year 1804. The editor, in his advertisement, acknowledges his obligations to the Rev. Henry Cotes, vicar of Bedlington, for his literary corrections. In 1818 appeared Select Fables of Æsop and others, collected and embellished by Thomas Bewick. Dibdin, in noticing this work, says, "It would be a species of scandalum magnatum to depreciate any production connected with the name of Bewick; but I will fearlessly and honestly aver that his Æsop disappointed me; the more so, as his Birds and Beasts are volumes perfectly classical in their kind." In 1820, Mr. E. Charnley, of Newcastle, bookseller, published a volume of "Select Fables, with cuts designed and engraved by Thomas and John Bewick and others previous to the year 1784." Most of these wood cuts had been engraved for Mr. Thomas Saint, an extensive printer in Newcastle. They were afterwards bought of E. and W. Hall, with the rest of their printing stock, and presented by the purchaser, Mr. Edward Walker, to Messrs. Wilson, of York, printers, of whom they were purchased by Mr. Charnley. Mr. Bewick was not much pleased with the appearance of these "earliest efforts of genius," and disapproved of this attempt "to feed the whimsies of bibliomanists." Mr. Bewick has drawn and engraved on wood several beautiful cuts which have been published separately, and a few engravings on copper. His Histories of Quadrupeds and Birds have gone through many editions. He has been lately engaged in preparing a History of Fishes, from drawings mostly executed by his son, Robert Bewick.
Mr. Bewick's works exhibit a fidelity of eye, an accuracy of conception, and brilliancy of execution, altogether inimitable. A writer in Blackwood's Magazine, speaking of the wonderful facility with which the very countenance and air of his animals are marked and distinguished, says, "There is the grave owl; the silly wavering lapwing; the pert jay; the impudent over-fed sparrow; the airy lark; the sleepy-headed gourmand duck; the restless titmouse; the insignificant wren; the clean harmless gull; the keen rapacious kite—every one has character. There are no 'muffin faces.' This is far beyond the mere pencilling of fur or feathers. It is the seizure and transfusion of countenance." This is just, for his merits extend far beyond the delineation of fur, feathers, and foliage. The landscape which he occasionally introduces as a relief to his principal figures, as well as his vignettes, invariably shew the hand of a master. His tail-pieces are replete with humour and moral instruction. Such an artist would have realized a fortune in the metropolis; but no offer, however splendid, could ever tempt him to leave his "native home." For a long period, he directed his thoughts and endeavours to the perfecting a discovery for the prevention of forgery; and he communicated with the commissioners appointed to examine into, and report upon, the practicability of some scheme for attaining this object. In 1822, he publicly denied the originality of the plan proposed by Sir W. Congreve. Mr. Bewick, it is understood, has, from time to time, noted down memoranda of his own life, which, if faithfully and literally published, will form a valuable and interesting posthumous work.
It is not at all surprising that local artists should vie with each other in producing the most accurate portraits of their father in the arts. The first was engraved by J. A. Kidd, from a painting by Miss Kirkley, published in 1798; the second, engraved by Thomas Ranson, from a painting by William Nicholson, published in 1816; the third, engraved by T. Summerfield, from a miniature by Murphy, published in 1816; the fourth, engraved by John Burnet, from a painting by James Ramsay, published in 1817; and the fifth, engraved on wood by Charlton Nesbit, from a drawing on the block by W. Nicholson, published in 1820. A few of Mr. Bewick's friends, in 1825, subscribed one guinea each for procuring his bust in marble, to be placed in the new building of the Literary and Philosophical Society. This flattering tribute to his merit was ably executed by E. H. Bailey, Esq. R. A. A portrait of Mr. Bewick, when in the prime of life, by the late Robert Dodds, engineer, is now in the possession of his son, R. B. Dodds, of Newcastle, civil engineer.
Robert Johnson, artist, was born at Shotley, in Northumberland, in the year 1770. His father, Thomas Johnson, who was a joiner and cabinet maker, removed to Gateshead, in order to indulge his son's propensity for drawing and engraving. Having an exalted opinion of Mr. Bewick's talents, Robert was, in 1778, placed under this master. He was much employed in drawing, and in this branch made a most extraordinary proficiency. Some of his pieces, executed during his leisure hours, were purchased by gentlemen of taste, amongst whom may be mentioned the Earl of Bute. Some of his caricatures, particularly those sketched to ridicule the ultra-toryism of the late Mr. Whitfield, bookseller, shew much of the tact and humour of Cruikshanks. He drew St. Nicholas' church, which was engraved on wood by Nesbit; and a view of Sunderland Bridge, engraved on copper by himself and Hunter. About six months after the expiration of his apprenticeship, he was engaged by Messrs. Morrison, of Perth, to reduce the set of portraits by Jamieson, and was sent to Kenmure, the seat of the Earl of Bredalbane, to copy them for the Gallery of Scottish Portraits. He had finished fifteen, and there remained four to copy, when, in his anxiety to complete his task, he would sit, though of a delicate constitution, all day in a room without fire. A violent cold was the consequence, which, neglected, increased to a fever. "It flew to his brain; and, terrible to relate! he was bound with ropes, beaten, and treated like a madman." This improper treatment was discontinued by the orders of a physician who accidentally arrived. By the application of blisters, reason returned; and poor Johnson died in peace on October 29, 1796, in the 26th year of his age. His friend and fellow-apprentice, Nesbit, engraved a memorial to his memory; and a stone was erected in Ovingham church-yard, to record the early fate of this ingenious and promising artist.
John Scott, engraver, the son of a journeyman brewer in Newcastle, was born in March, 1773. As his parents were poor, he was sent, at the early age of nine years, to be an errand-boy to Mr. Greenwell, tallowchandler. When of proper age, he became an apprentice to this business, at which he toiled, as in duty bound, through the day; but his evenings were devoted to the pencil. One of his first performances that excited notice was an accurate profile likeness of Mr. Bulmer, a respectable shoemaker, done in Indian ink, from recollection after his death. Mr. Purvis, a carver and gilder, advised him to try his genius on copper; and his earliest efforts were made on smooth halfpennies, by the light of the fire. The first large piece he engraved was Tobias and the Fish. When he had finished his apprenticeship, he was employed by Mr. A. Hunter, to engrave profiles of the king, queen, and dauphin of France, for Angus' History of the French Revolution, published in 1796, and for which Mr. Hunter refused to pay him, alleging that artists were never paid for the first piece. However, confident in his own powers, he boldly ventured to go to London, that hive of souls and nursery of genius. Here he was kindly received by his townsman, Mr. Pollard, the engraver, with whom he engaged himself for one year. After this, he worked for himself, and had to encounter various discouraging difficulties in raising himself into notice. At length, he produced "Breaking Cover," and the "Death of the Fox," in the line manner, after Gilpin and Reinagle, and which infinitely surpassed any thing of the kind ever before offered to the public. The engravings were honoured with the most distinguished and marked approbation of the Society of Arts. He was presented with an uncommonly large, beautiful, and elegant gold medal, by his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex; which flattering mark of royal distinction was conferred on him in the presence of upwards of 1200 people, admirers and amateurs of the fine arts, accompanied with an address, expressive of his pleasure and satisfaction at seeing the science carried to such a degree of perfection. Mr. Scott married Miss Goldsmidt, a Jewish lady, nearly related to the rich banker of that name, and whose friends were highly offended, both at her marriage and her conversion to Christianity. In order to support his wife and his rapidly increasing family in a comfortable manner, he laboured with the most unremitting assiduity. Several hundred beautiful plates were executed by his graver. The "Sportsman's Cabinet," the "Sporting Magazine," and Daniel's "Rural Sports," owe much of their reputation to the exquisite truth and delicacy of the embellishments he furnished. At length, his constitution began to give way, and he sustained a severe paralytic stroke in 1821. By the advice of his medical attendants, he returned to Newcastle for a few months. On his return to London, he was likely to be plunged into irretrievable ruin by an accumulation of misfortunes; but the president and members of the Royal Academy raised a subscription, to enable this highly-talented artist to resume his labours. A spirited portrait of Mr. Scott was drawn by Mr. Jackson in 1823, and engraved by Mr. Fry.
Luke Clennell, artist, was born at Ulgham in Northumberland. Discovering a taste for drawing and painting, his uncle, Thomas Clennell, of Morpeth, placed him under the care of Thomas Bewick, of Newcastle, engraver. The exquisite illustrations of Rogers' Pleasures of Memory, and the diploma of the High-land Society, attest his excellence in wood engraving. In London, he executed some of his own energetic compositions in a vigorous and masterly style. He also studied painting, in the British Institution, with such industry and success as to obtain the most flattering patronage from that useful establishment. His composition, grouping, and arrangement, were highly admired. But, in completing a picture for the Earl of Bridgewater, representing the fete given by the city of London to the allied sovereigns and their generals, he endured such anxiety and fatigue as overpowered his mental faculties. His wife, the daughter of Warren the engraver, shared in his sufferings; and his children were plunged into the deepest distress. A committee of noblemen and gentlemen were formed, under whose direction his painting of the brilliant charge made by the Life Guards at the Battle of Waterloo was engraved by Bromley, for the benefit of his family. Thus was one of the finest artists of the age cut off from society, in the bright forenoon of his genius. Mr. Clennell is now convalescent, and lives with a relation at Tritlington in Northumberland; but the informing spirit that animated his master mind is unfortunately fled.
Charlton Nesbit, engraver, the son of Joseph Nesbit, keelman, was born at Swalwell, on the banks of the Tyne, in the year 1775. When fit for business, he was apprenticed to Thomas Bewick, engraver. While an apprentice, his indications of genius were neither numerous nor striking; but when at liberty to devote his energies to a favourite object, he shewed powers of a superior order. His first large work was engraving Johnson's drawing of St. Nicholas' church, on twelve distinct blocks of wood, which were joined and cramped together. For this beautiful specimen of wood engraving he received the gold pallet from the Society of Arts. On his arrival in London, he found the art of engraving on wood in a miserably low state. His admirable illustrations of Hudibras and Shakspeare, and the Religious Emblems printed by Johnson and Warwick, excited the attention and revived the hopes of the lovers of the fine arts. The works printed by Sir Egerton Brydges, at the Lee Priory Press, contain some exquisite specimens of his superior skill; and a scene in Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, drawn by Thurston, in Savage's Decorative Printing, presents an effort in wood engraving that has perhaps never been surpassed. The variety, the richness, and the depth of the foliage, is wonderful. Mr. Nesbit occasionally introduces in his figures specimens of cross-hatching, which it was once imagined could not be done on wood. He has lived in retirement at Swalwell during the last 17 years, being partially employed by the booksellers of London, to which city he purposes to return. It deserves notice that Mr. Nesbit also received a silver medal from the Society of Arts in 1802, for his engravings on wood.
William Harvey, artist, was born at the Westgate, Newcastle, on July 13, 1797. His father (keeper of the Public Baths), perceiving that he possessed an extraordinary genius for drawing, bound him apprentice to Mr. Thomas Bewick, engraver. Panting for excellence, he hurried to London as soon as his apprenticeship had expired, and commenced the study of the principles of perspective and anatomy. The latter branch he pursued with such devotion, under the celebrated Charles Bell, as to dissect a subject himself, and to draw all the muscles as large as life. The result of these preparatory studies was given to the world in a large wood engraving, 15 inches by 11½, of the Assassination of Dentatus, from a painting by Haydon. This may be ranked amongst the highest and most energetic works of art, it being difficult to decide "which is most worthy of approbation; its bold and sinewy expression as a drawing, the romantic classicality of the subject, or the hitherto unparalleled force and beauty of the engraving." The embellishments for Henderson's History of Wines are remarkably airy, picturesque, and appropriate. Nothing can excel the exquisite drawing and engraving of the Contest of Bacchus and Hercules, the Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne, Bacchus' Triumph, &c. Northcote's Fables are also engraved with truth and delicacy. His only attempt in copper engraving is the head of his late master, B. R. Haydon, Esq. which is finely, forcibly, and picturesquely executed. Mr. Harvey is now employed in drawing and designing, for which he is well qualified.
Thomas Fryer Ranson, engraver, the son of Thomas Ranson, tailor, was born at Sunderland, in the year 1784; but his parents shortly after removed to Newcastle, and, at the usual age, he was bound apprentice to J. A. Kidd, engraver. After completing his apprenticeship, he remained a few years in Newcastle, during which he executed several pieces with great taste and delicacy. After his arrival in London, he soon became distinguished, and, in 1814, received a silver medal from the Society of Arts, for the engraving of a portrait, supposed to be that of Sir Thomas Gresham. On April 15, 1818, he sent to the Society of Arts the copy of a new bank-note, exhibiting specimens of the highest excellence in the graphic art. The vignette, etched and engraved by himself from a drawing by Thurston, was a most beautiful production of art. Messrs. Archer and Turrell also contributed their skill; and the writing was well executed by Mr. M. Lambert, of Newcastle, engraver. This plate and Mr. Ranson's letters were afterwards published by the Society of Arts.
In June this year, Mr. Ranson published "An interior View of Cold-Bath-Fields Prison, in which Thomas Ranson was unlawfully confined by the Bank of England, for holding an alleged forged One Pound Note (that he paid Forty Shillings for), which was proved to be genuine in a Court of Justice. Dedicated, without Permission, to the Govr. and Company of the Thread Needle Street Paper Establishment." He contended that the Bank had no right to impound notes the property of others, and that the inspectors, could not always distinguish between a forged and a genuine note. The question was decided in his favour; and he received much merited praise for this noble stand against an illegal assumption of power by the Bank. In 1821, he received from the Society of Arts the Gold Isis Medal, for his portrait of the late Duke of Northumberland, an engraving in the line manner, which has seldom been equalled; and, in the following year, he again received the Gold Isis Medal from the same Society, for an engraving of Wilkie's "Duncan Gray." He has just produced some small engravings, which that great master, Wilkie, declares to be " decided improvements upon any of his former works." Mr. Ranson, like many other geniuses, is occasionally irregular and eccentric; but many of his weaknesses "lean to virtue's side," for he is always the champion of the poor or oppressed. His brother Cuthbert is an ingenious sculptor in London.
Robert Pollard, engraver, brother to Mr. Joseph Pollard, of Newcastle, corn-merchant, is a native of this town, in which he served an apprenticeship to Mr. Kirkup, a watch-maker. Being extremely fond of drawing, he went to London, and placed himself under Mr. Taylor, an engraver. Mr. Pollard excels in shipping' and sea views; but his best performances are a pair of large prints, dedicated to the Humane Society.
William Hodgson, artist, whose parents lived in Gateshead, studied drawing under Mr. B. Muss, and became an exquisite painter in water colours. On going to London, he was warmly patronised by Schiavonetti, who gave him lessons both in drawing and in Italian. He became distinguished as an accurate copier, and was sent into Yorkshire to copy the "Three Marys" at Castle Howard, and where he was prematurely cut off, at the very commencement of his professional career.—Joseph Atkinson, a native artist, excelled in animal painting. His painting of Tanfield Arch was engraved for the benefit of his family.—Henry Fulke. Plantagenet Woolicombe Hole, engraver, was the son of a captain in the Lancashire Militia, and served his apprenticeship to Thomas Bewick, of Newcastle. He then removed to Liverpool, where he was highly esteemed for his skill in wood engraving, and was warmly patronised by W. Roscoe, Esq. the Rev. W. Shepherd, Mr. Capel Lofft, and Mr. M'Creary, the printer, in whose works are several specimens of his workmanship, distinguished for an effect, freedom, and knowledge of foliage, seldom attained. On the death of an uncle, he became possessed of a large estate at Ebberley Hall in Devonshire.—H. White, engraver, was apprentice to Thomas Bewick. He now resides in London, and there maintains the honour of the Bewick school. He engraved the illustrations to Hone's "House that Jack built," the "Matrimonial Ladder," &c.—Anderson, engraver, son of Dr. James Anderson, of Edinburgh, served part of his apprenticeship with Thomas Bewick. He engraved the ornaments to Dr. Lettsom's Grove, after which he emigrated to Rio Janeiro.—John Jackson, engraver, an ingenious youth belonging to Ovingham, shewed such extraordinary talents in drawing and painting when a boy, that he was sent by a few gentlemen to Newcastle for improvement. Differing with his master, Thomas Bewick, he went to London, where he is working under the direction of Mr. Harvey. Many of Cruikshanks' humourous drawings for Hone's "Every Day Book" are engraved by this artist.
Amongst the artists now living in Newcastle, Isaac Nicholson, a pupil of Bewick, deserves notice for his clear, firm, and accurate engravings on wood. William Collard, engraver, a young and promising artist with Lambert, has produced some good portraits in the line manner. E. Hastings, of London, whose pictures in the Northumberland Exhibition have attracted much notice, is a north country artist, having been educated at Bambrough, and taught painting, &c. under the patronage of the late Archdeacon Bouyer. John Woodhouse, profile painter in shade, a native of Alnwick, possesses, in a remarkable degree, the faculty of retaining the exact forms of objects for a length of time after he has seen them. In some instances, he has produced correct and striking likenesses of persons after their death.
Thomas Coulson, decorative house painter, merits special notice, having introduced the imitations of woods, marbles, Chinese, black, and gold work, into Newcastle; and afterwards effected a complete revolution in the art of house-painting in the kingdom of Scotland, where it had been but partially practised, and in its rudest form. He is a native of Newcastle, and served an apprenticeship to Mr. Kirkup, watch-maker; but, from his fondness for drawing and painting, he was induced to place himself under the late Mr. Richardson, painter. During many years, he carried on business in Newcastle on an extensive scale. Lieut. Gen. Dundas, who then commanded in this district, employed him in 1807; and, by his recommendation, Mr. Coulson painted several houses in Edinburgh, where his business rapidly rose into such consequence, that, in 1817, he sold his stock in Newcastle, and, two years afterwards, became a resident in the Scottish metropolis. Several of Mr. Coulson's apprentices have become respectable artists; but few of them have followed his line of business.
The late Isaac Jopling, of Gateshead, was, in 1810, presented by the Society of Arts with a gold medal, for penetrating into the remotest corners of the Highlands of Scotland, discovering variety of fine marbles, working the quarries, and bringing, at great labour and expense, the produce of these almost inaccessible regions into use. In 1811, Isaac Jopling, his son, was presented with the silver medal by the Society of Arts, for a plaster cast of the Gladiator. The late John Jopling, of Newcastle, and predecessor of Mr. Davis, marble mason, was a good sculptor, and had a fine taste for miniature painting.
Michael Bryan, Esq. was a native of Newcastle upon Tyne, and maternal uncle to Mr. R. Robertson, silversmith. Early in life he went to London, and devoted himself to the study of the fine arts. Very few, if any, of his contemporaries ever possessed so much influence in all matters of refined connoisseurship as he exercised for a number of years. His judgment in pictures was of the first order; his information extensive; and his enthusiasm for the sublime and beautiful, in works of art, of boundless fervour. His opinion was consequently looked up to, as decisive of the merit or demerit of paintings, whether derived from the ancient masters, or from the easels of modern genius; and many hundred thousand pounds have been expended upon his dicta in affairs of this kind. Mr. Bryan allied himself to a noble family, by marrying a sister of the Earl of Shrewsbury; and he mingled among the best society of the times. He was unfortunate, however, in some speculations, a few years before his death; and this, for a period, threw a cloud over his circumstances, and almost entirely severed him from those pursuits for which he had been so celebrated. Retiring from more active life, he projected and finished his " Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Painters and Engravers," in two volumes, 4to.; which was commenced in 1813, and given to the world in 1816. This work, a great improvement, as well as enlargement, of Pilkington's design, is evidence of his diligence and talents as an author. Several of the original sketches are admirably written; and the whole forms a compendium and index of arts and artists unequalled in our language. As an ardent friend, a worthy man, and an enlightened member of the most intellectual circles, few persons ever filled a more honourable place in all the relations of life. He died on March 21, 1821, aged 64 years.
2 This appears to be an excellent opportunity for instituting an Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, which might afford local artists those facilities in the prosecution of their studies, and those rewards for merit, without which genius itself will languish, or waste its energies in fruitless and misdirected efforts.
3 This picture, which possesses much local interest, was engraved by Mr. George Armstrong. Amongst the characters introduced are, "Blind Willy," a homely minstrel, who has wandered uncovered through the streets time out of mind; the polite beggar, "Cap. tain Starkey;" the acute "Cull Billy;" with "Jenny Baloo,"---"Old Judie,"---"Highland Donald"---"Bawling Antie,"---"Jacky Coxon," and a few others.
4 A Mr. Jamieson that preceded Mr. Beilby had produced some trifling engravings. Joseph Barber, music and copperplate printer, in 1740 announced for publication the engraving of a horse, "being the first of the copperplate kind ever performed in Newcastle upon Tyne." Shortly after, Ralph Walters, who belonged to Chirton, (father of the late Ralph Walters, also a tolerable artist,) settled in Newcastle as a painter, and was long without a rival. One of his best views was painted for the Clutterbuck family at Warkworth.
5 For a memoir of John Bewick, see Hist. of Northumb. vol. ii. page 369.