Byrne, William

, an eminent landscape engraver, was born in 1742, and educated under an uncle, who engraved heraldry on plate; but young Byrne having succeeded in a landscape after Wilson, which obtained a premium from the society for the encouragement of arts, it was regarded as the precursor of talent of a superior order, and he was sent to Paris, at that time the chief seminary in Europe for the study of engraving. There he studied successively under Aliamet and Wille: from the former of whom he imbibed the leading traits of that style of engraving which he afterwards adopted as his own r under the latter he engraved a large plate of a storm after Vernet; but the manual dexterity of Wille was alien to his mind, and probably contributed not rnuch to his improvement, although he alw r ays spoke of Wille’s instructions with respect. When he returned to England, the success of Woollett, as a landscape engraver, had set the fashion in that department of the art; but Byrne, disdaining to copy what he did not feel, or perhaps scorning the infiuence of fashion in art, preserved the independence of his style; and continued to study, and to recommend to his pupils*, nature, Vivares, and the best examples of the French school. His larger performances are after Zuccarelli and Both: but his principal works (containing probably his best engraving) are the “Antiquities of Great Britain,” after Hearne; a set of “Views of the Lakes,” after Farringdon; and Smith’s “Scenery of Italy.” His chief excellence consisting in his aerial perspective, and the general effect of his chiaroscuro, he was more agreeably and more beneficially employed, in finishing than in etching, and hence he generally worked in conjunction with his pupils, who were in his later years his own sons and daughters. His manners were unassuming; his professional industry | unremitting; and his moral character exemplary. This ingenious artist died at his house in Great Titchfield street, Sept. 24, 1805. 1


Gent. Mag. vol. LXXV.