Dorigny, Sir Nicholas

, an eminent engraver, the brother of the preceding, was born in France in 1G57. His father dying when he was very young, he was brought up to the study of the law, which he pursued till about thirty years of age: when being examined, in order to being admitted to plead, the judge, finding him very deaf, advised him to relinquish a profession to which one of his senses was so ill adapted. He took the advice, and shut himself up for a year to practise drawing, for which he had probably better talents than for the law, sinee he could sufficiently ground himself in the former in a twelvemonth. Repairing to Rome, and receiving instructions from his brother Lewis, he followed painting for some years, and having acquired great freedom of hand, he was advised to try etching. Being of a flexile disposition, or uncommonly observant of advice, he accordingly turned to etching, and practised that for some more years; but happening to look into the works of Audran, he found he had been in a wrong method, and took up Audran’s manner, which he pursued for ten years. He was now about fifty years of age, had done many plates, and lastly the gallery of Cupid and Psyche, after Raphael, when a new difficulty struck him. Not having learned the handling and ri-rht use of the graver, he despaired of attaining the harmony and perfection at whicn he aimed, and at once abandoning engraving, he returned to his pencil a word from a friend, says lord Orford, would have thrown him back to the law. However, after two months, he was persuaded to apply to the graver; and receiving some hints from one that used to engrave the writing under his plates, he conquered that difficulty too, and began the seven planets from Raphael. Mercury, his first, succeeded so well, that he engraved four large pictures with oval tops, and from thence proceeded to Raphael’s “Transfiguration,” which raised his reputation above all the masters of that time. At Rome he became known to several Englishmen of rank, who persuaded him to come to England and engrave the Cartoons, then at Hampton Court. He arrived in June 1711, but did not begin his drawings till Easter following, the intervening time being spent in raising a fund for his work. At first it was proposed that the plates should be engraved at the queen’s expence, and to be given as presents tothe nobility, foreign princes, and ministers. Lord-treasurer Oxford was much his friend | but Dorigny demanding 4000l. or 5000l. put a stop to that plan; yet the queen gave him an apartment at Hampton Court, with necessary perquisites. The work, however, was undertaken by subscription ,*


Steele wrote the 226th Number of the Spectator to encourage this.

at four guineas a set, and Dorigny sent for Dupuis and Dubosc from Paris to assist him; but from some disagreement that occurred, they left him before the work was half completed. In 1719 he presented two complete sets to king George I. and a set a-piece to the prince and princess; for which the king gave him 100 guineas, and the prince a gold medal. The duke of Devonshire, who had assisted him, procured for him, in 1720, the honour of knighthood. His eyes afterwards failing him, he returned to Paris, where, in 1725, he was made a member of the royal academy of painting, and died in 1746, aged eighty-nine.

His drawing was incorrect and affected; the naked parts of his figures are often falsely marked, and the extremities are defective. His draperies are coarse, the folds stiff and hard; and a manner of his own pervades all his prints, so that the style of the painter is constantly lost in that of the engraver. Nor did he ever fail more than in working from the paintings of Raphael. Basan, with an excusable partiality for his countryman, says of him, “we have many excellent prints by his hand, in which one justly admires the good taste of his drawing, and the intelligent picturesque manner, which he acquired by the judicious reflections he made upon the works of the great masters, during the residence of twenty-two years in Italy.” We have of his prints the following, viz. “St. Peter curing the Lame Man at the gate of the temple,” from Civoli; “The Transfiguration,” from Raphael; “The Descent from the Cross,” from Daniello da Volterra; “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian,” from Domenichino, which two last are said to be his best prints “The Trinity,” from Guido; “The History of Cupid and Psyche,” from Raphael’s pictures in the Vatican; “The Cartoons,” seven very large plates from the pictures of Raphael. He also engraved from Annibale Caracci, Lanfranche, Louis Dorigny, and other masters. 1


Walpole’s Anecdotes.—Strutt’s Dict.