Sandby, Paul

, an ingenious artist, descended from a branch of the family of Saunby, of Babworth in Nottinghamshire, was born at Nottingham in 1732. In 1746 he came to London, and having an early predilection for the arts, procured admission to the drawing room in the Tower, where he first studied. In 1748, William duke of Cumberland, wishing to have a survey of the Highlands of Scotland, which was the scene of his memorable campaign in 1745-6, Mr. Sandby was appointed draughtsman, under the inspection of general David Watson, with whom he travelled through the North and Western parts of that most romantic country, and made many sketches. During his stay at Edinburgh he made a number of small etchings from these designs; which on his return to London were published in a folio volume. But drawing of plans abounding in straight lines being neither congenial to his taste nor worthy of his talents, he in 1752 quitted the service of the survey, and resided with his brother, Mr. Thomas Sandby, at Windsor, and during his continuance there took more than seventy views of Windsor and Eton. The accuracy, taste, and spirit with which they were in an eminent degree marked, so forcibly struck sir Joseph Banks, that he purchased them all, and at a very liberal price. Mr. Sandby had soon afterwards the honour of being one of this gentleman’s party in a tour through North and South Walesj and made a great number of sketches from remarkable scenes, castles, seats, &c. Under the patronage of the late sir Watkin Williams Wynne, he afterwards took many more views from scenes in the same country, which with those before mentioned he transferred to copper-plates, and made several sets of prints in imitation of drawings, in bister or Indian ink. The first hint of the process by which this effect is given to an engraving, Mr. Sandby is said to have received from the hon. Charles Greville, a gentleman of acknowledged taste and judgment in every branch of polite art. Profiting by this hint, Mr. Sandby so far improved upon it as to bring the captivating art of Aquatinta to a degree of perfection never before known in this country.

About 1753 Mr. Sandby, and several members of an academy who met at what had previously been Roubilliac’s | workshop, in St. Martin’s-lane, wishing to extend their plan, and establish a society on a broader basis, held several meetings for the purpose of making new regulations, &c. Concerning these regulations it may naturally be supposed there were variety of opinions, but Hogarth, who was one of the members, and who deservedly held a very high rank in the arts, disapproved of the whole scheme, and wished the society to remain as it then was. He thought that enlarging the number of students would induce a crowd of young men to quit more profitable pursuits, neglect what might be more suitable to their talents, and introduce to the practice of the arts more professors than the arts would support. This naturally involved him in many disputes with his brother artists, and as these disputes were not always conducted with philosophic calmness, the satirist sometimes said things that his opponents deemed rather too severe for the occasion. On the publication of his “Analysis of Beauty” they recriminated, with interest. Among the prints which were then published to ridicule his system, line of beauty, &c. are six or eight, that from the manner in which they are conceived, and the uncommon spirit with which they are etched, carry more than probable marks of the burin of Mr. Sandby, who was then a very young man, but afterwards declared, that if he had been more intimately acquainted with Mr. Hogarth’s merit, he would on no account have drawn a line which might tend to his dispraise.

On the institution of the Royal Academy, Mr. Sandby was elected a royal academician. By the recommendation of the duke of Grafton, the marquis of Granby in 1768 appointed him chief drawing-master of the Royal Academy at Woolwich, which office he held with great honour to himself and advantage to the institution; and saw many able and distinguished draughtsmen among the officers of artillery, and corps of Engineers, formed under his instructions.

Mr. Sandby died at his house at Paddington Nov. 7, 1809, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. He contributed much to the reputation of the English school of landscape painting, and in many of his exquisite delineations, uniting fidelity with taste, the beautiful scenery for which this island is so eminently distinguished, is displayed as in a mirror. For force, clearness, and transparency, it may very truly be said that his paintings in water | colours have not yet been equalled; the views of castles, ruins, bridges, &c. which are frequently introduced, will remain monuments to the honour of the arts, the artists, and the country, when the originals from which they are designed are mouldered into dust. 1


Europ. Mag. for 1796. —Gent. Mag. vol. LXXIX.