Bourgeois, Sir Francis

, knight of the Polish order of Merit, and an artist of distinguished reputation, was the descendant of a considerable family in Switzerland, but was born in London in 1756. His early destination was the army, under the patronage of lord Heathfield, who was his father’s - friend but having been instructedwhi|p a child in the rudiments of painting, by a foreigner of incon* siderable merit as a horse-painter, he became so attached to the study, as soon to relinquish the military profession, and devote himself wholly to the pencil. For this purpose he was placed under the tuition of Loutherbourg, and having, from his connexions and acquaintance, access to many of the most distinguished collections, he soon acquired considerable reputation by his landscapes and sea-pieces. In 1776, he travelled through Italy, France, and Holland, | where his correct knowledge of the language of each country, added to the politeness of his address, and the pleasures of his conversation, procured him an introduction to the best society, and most valuable repositories of the arts on the continent. At his return to England, he exhibited several specimens of his studies at the royal academy, which obtained him reputation and patronage. In 1791 he was appointed painter to the king of Poland, whose brother, the prince primate, had been much pleased with his performances during his residence in this country; and at the same time he received the honour of knighthood of the order of Merit, which was afterwards confirmed by his present majesty, who, in 1794, appointed him landscapepainter to the king. Previous to this he had, in 1792, been elected a member of the royal academy. Some time before his death, by the will of the late Noel Desenfans, esq. an eminent picture-dealer, he became possessed of sufficient property to render a laborious application to his profession no longer necessary, and from that time he lived in the circle of his friends, highly respected for his talents and agreeable manners. He died Jan. 8, 1811, at his house in Portland- street, bequeathing his fine collection of pictures, and his fortune, to Dirlwich college. According to the terms of his will, he leaves the whole of these pictures, besides 10,000l. to keep them in due preservation, and 2,000/ for the purpose of repairing the gallery ki the college for their reception. He also bequeathed legacies of lOOOl. each to the master of the college, and to the chaplain and the fellows of the college are to be the residuary legatees, and are to possess, for its advantage, all the rest of his property, of every denomination. Most part of this will, however, does not take effect until after the death of Mrs. Desenfans, the widow of his benefactor; and after that event he directs that the body of the late Noel Desenfans, which is now deposited in a sarcophagus within a mausoleum in a chapel, attached to his late house in Charlotte-street, Portland-place, shall be removed, together with his own body (which has, by his desire, been deposited in the same mausoleum), and entombed in a sarcophagus, to be "placed in the chapel of Dulwich college. So singular a will, with respect at least to the place chosen for this collection, excited much surprise. The following circumstances, however, which have been communicated by an intimate friend of the testator, may in | some measure account for it. After sir Francis became possessed of the Desenfans collection, by the owner’s friendly will in his favour, he wished to purchase the fee simple of his fine house in Charlotte-street, enlarge it, and endow it as a perpetual repository for the collection, easily accessible to the public, and particularly to students as a school of art; but unluckily, his landlord, a nobleman lately deceased, refused his consent, although he afterwards expressed an inclination to grant it, when too late. Sir Francis then conceived the design of hequeathing the collection to the British Museum, but did not execute it, from a fear that the pictures might not be kept entire and unmixed, he being told that it was in the power of the trustees to dispose of what might appear superfluous or inferior. Such was his respect for his deceased friend, that his only ambition was to discover a place where the collection might be kept together, and known in perpetuum, not as his, but as the Desenfans Collection. By whom Dulwich college, an hospital for poor men and women, remote from the residence of artists and men of taste, was suggested, we know not. It was a place sir Francis had probably never before seen; but, having once visited it, and been informed that his terms might be complied with there, without risk of alteration, he disposed of his property as we have related.

As an artist, sir Francis may be placed in the second rank. He was a close imitator of Loutherbourg. His conception of his subject, as well as the grouping of his figures, was happy, and in conformity with nature; but he was often defective in his finishing, and so much a mannerist in his colouring, that his paintings may be recognized by a very distant glance. 1

1 Gent. Mag. 1811. Lysons’s Environs, Suppl Volume.