Edwards, Edward

, the late teacher of perspective in the royal academy, was born March 7, 1738, in Castlestreet, Leicester-fields, where his father was a chair-maker and carver, and educated at a protestant school established for the children of French refugees. When fifteen years of age he assisted his father, who intended him for his own business, but discovering in him some inclination to drawing, permitted him to take some lessons at a drawingschool, and in 1759, young Edwards was admitted a student at the duke of Richmond’s gallery. On the death of his father, in the following year, be found himself without employment; and with a view to his support, and that of his mother, and a brother and sister, opened an evening school at his lodgings, where he taught drawing. In 1761 he was admitted a member of the academy in Peter-court, St. Martin’s-lane, where he studied the human figure with, the principal artists of that period, and made such progress as to obtain a premium for a drawing from the society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures, and commerce. In 1763 he was employed by the late Boydell to make some drawings for his publication of engravings from the old masters; and in 1764- obtained another premium from the society of arts, &c. for the best historical picture in chiaro oscuro; and became a member (and frequent exhibiter) of the incorporated society of artists. In 1770 he was employed by the society of antiquaries to make a large drawing from the picture at Windsor of the interview between Henry VIII. and Francis I. at Calais.

In all this time, although his character advanced, his profits were but moderate, and he was obliged to undertake employment of various kinds to maintain himself and family, which he contrived to do by constant industry and frugality. In 1771 he exhibited at the royal academy, which in 1773, in consideration of his abilities, elected him an associate. Having about the same time been employed by Mr. Udny, this gentleman enabled him to pay a visit to Italy in 1775, which he had long wished to accomplish; and during a tour of thirteen months, Mr. Edwards profited by the careful inspection of whatever was most remarkable both in nature and art in that celebrated country.

On his arrival in London, he again established himself in his profession. He had seen much, and his opinions, which were given with uudeviating integrity, were always | respected,- but his productions seldom excited much approbation, nor have there been many instances where an artist, with so much general capacity and vigour of mind, has not been able to make greater proficiency. In 1781 he obtained a premium from the society of arts for a landscape painting; and the same year he presented to the royal society a paper on the storm at Roehampton, accompanied by drawings made by himself of the singular effects of it. In June 1782, he went to Bath, where he was employed to paint three arabesque ceilings, in the house of the honourable Charles Hamilton. This was one of the greatest commissions he ever received, and occupied him till March 1783; and the politeness and liberality of Mr. Hamilton made his time pass very agreeably. He soon after met with less liberal treatment from Horace Walpole, who gave him some commissions until 1784, when their intercourse ceased. Walpole had been, as he thought, charged too much for a cabinet made by a person recommended by Edwards, and expressed himself on the subject with so much petulance and coarseness as to provoke Edwards to reply with proper indignation.

Of Mr. Edwards’s commissions after this, we shall only notice his picture of a hunting party for Mr. Estcourt, in 1786 a collection of etchings, fifty-two in number, published by Leigh and Sotheby in 1799 his “Commemoration of Handel in Westminster-abbey” and his picture from the “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” for the Shakspeare gallery. To enumerate further would be only an account of various small commissions which always gave satisfaction, but were not attended by the fame or profit of his more successful brethren. In 1788, he was appointed teacher of perspective in the royal academy, and was continued in that situation during the remainder of his life. For this he had qualified himself by long study, the fruits of which were given to the public in a “Treatise on Perspective,1803, 4to, with forty plates, a work, not certainly without defects, but upon the whole, judicious, comprehensive, and useful.

In 1800 he lost his mother, whom he had hitherto maintained with true filial piety, at the age of ninety-three. His sister continued to reside with him; and his prudence, aided by her economy and good management, enabled him to subsist with credit with a very small income, which was gradually becoming less. Still his spirits were | uniformly cheerful, and in society he was to the last lively and agreeable. His conduct had been virtuous and irreproachable, and his religious sentiments supported him amidst every adversity. He had failed in nothing but in his endeavour to acquire greater power in the art to which he had devoted hi ins- It'; and in this, all that depended upon himself had been done. The employment of ^iis latter years was superintending at the press his “Anecdotes of Painters,” intended as a supplement to lord Orford’s work. For this he had long been collecting materials, and although his criticisms may not on every occasion accord with the general opinion, he is accurate in his facts, which he took much pains to ascertain from an acquaintance with all the members of his profession for nearly half a century.

He died of a very short illness, and indeed almost suddenly, Dec. 19, 1806, and his funeral at St. Pancras churchyard, was attended by many members of the royal academy, who paid an unfeigned tribute of respect to the memory of his useful and blameless life. 1

1 Memoirs prefixed to his “Anecdotes of Painters,” published in 1803, 4to.