Basire, James

, an eminent English engraver, son of Isaac Basire, who was an engraver and printer, was born Oct. 6, 1730; and bred from infancy to his father’s profession, which he practised with great reputation for sixty years. He studied under the direction of Mr. Richard Dalton; was with him at Rome made several drawings from the pictures of Raphael, &c. at the time that Mr. Stuart, Mr. Brand Hollis, and sir Joshua Reynolds, were there. He was appointed engraver to the society of antiquaries about 1760; and to the royal society about 1770. As a specimen of his numerous works, it may be sufficient to refer to the beautiful plates of the “Vetusta Monumenta,” published by the society of antiquaries, and to Mr. Cough’s truly valuable “Sepulchral Monuments.” With the author of that splendid work he was most deservedly a favourite. When he had formed the plan, and hesitated on actually committing it to the press, Mr. Gough says, “Mr. Basire’s specimens of drawing and engraving gave me so much satisfaction, that it was impossible to resist the impulse of carrying such a design into execution.” The royal portraits and other beautiful plates in the “Sepulchral Monuments” fully justified the idea which the author had entertained of his engraver’s talents; and are handsomely acknowledged by Mr. Gough. The Plate of “Le Champ de Drap d’Or” was finished in 1774; a plate so large, that paper was obliged to be made on purpose, which to this time is called “antiquarian paper. Besides the numerous plates which he engraved for the societies, he was engaged in a great number of public and private works, which bear witness to the fidelity of his burin. He engraved the portraits of Fielding and Hogarth in 1762; earl Camden, in 1766, after sir Joshua Reynolds; Pylades and Orestes, 1770, from a picture by West; portraits of the Rev. John Watson, and sir George Warren’s family; portraits also of dean Swift, and Dr. Parnell, 1774; sir James Burrow, 1780; Mr. Bowyer, 1782; portraits also of Dr. Munro, Mr. Gray, Mr. | Thonxpson, Lady Stanhope, Sir George Savile, Bishop Hoadly, Rev. Dr. Pegge, Mr. Price, AlgernonSydney, Andrew Marvell, William Camden, William Brereton,1790,&c. &c.; Captain Cook’s portrait, and other plates, for his First and Second Voyages a great number of plates for Stuart’s Athens (which are well drawn). In another branch of his art, the Maps for general Roy’s” Roman Antiquities in Britain“are particularly excellent. He married, first, Anne Beaupuy; and, secondly, Isabella Turner. He died Sept. 6, 1802, in his seventy-third year, and was buried in the vault under Pentonville chapel. The ingenuity and integrity of this able artist are inherited by his eldest son, of whose works it may be enough to mention only the” Cathedrals," published by the society of antiquaries, from the exquisite drawings by Mr. John Carter. A third James Basirc, born in 1796, has already given several proofs of superior excellence in the arts of drawing and engraving. 1


Nichols’s Life of Bowyer, vol. III.