Place, Francis

, a man of taste in various pursuits, but chiefly known as an engraver, was the son of Mr. Rowland Place, of Dinsdale, in the county of Durham. He was at first intended for the law, and was placed as a clerk to an attorney in London, with whom he resided until 1665, when a house he had taken being shut up on account of the plague, he left London and quitted his profession at the same time. He now turned projector, and expended considerable sums of money in attempting to make porcelaine, which he put in practice at the manor-­house of York. In this it is probable he had not due perseverance; for one Clifton, of Pontefract, took the hint from him, and realized a fortune. Who was his teacher as an artist is not known, and his works are very rare, for he painted, drew, etched, and engraved, merely for his own amusement; and as his productions prove him a man of great abilities, it is to be lamented that he had not equal application, and left many valuable designs unfinished. In the reign of Charles II. it is said he was offered a pension of 500l. to draw the royal navy, but he refused this sum, large as it then was, from a dislike of confinement and dependence. He died in 1728, and his widow, on quitting the manor-house at York, disposed of his paintings; among which was an admired picture of fowls, others of fishes and flowers unfinished, together with his own portrait by himself. He left behind him a daughter, who was married to Wadham Wyndham, esq. This lady was living in 1764.

His etchings, particularly of landscapes and birds, from Griffier, are admirable. The free style in which he treated the foliage of his trees, proves his judgment and good taste; and his portraits in mezzotinto are excellent. Among the latter, Strutt mentions bishop Crew, archbishop Sterne, Dr. Comber, dean of Durham, Henry Gyles, the artist, and general Lambert. In Thoresby’s Topography of Leeds are some churches drawn by Place; the plates for Godartius’s book of Insects are by him; and he also executed many views in Yorkshire. 2


Lord Orford’s Catalogue of Engravers.—Strutt’s Dictionary.