Fuller, Isaac (DNB00)

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FULLER, ISAAC (1606–1672), painter, born in 1606, is stated to have studied first in France under François Perrier, probably at the new academy in Paris, under whom he acquired some skill and robustness of style from copying the antique. Unluckily he was too fond of the tavern to become a great painter, and his talents were dissipated in ignoble indulgences. Still he produced some works which were not without merit. He resided for some time at Oxford, and painted an altarpiece for Magdalen College, and also one for Wadham College; the latter, which represented ‘The Last Supper,’ between ‘Abraham and Melchizedek’ and ‘The Israelites gathering manna,’ was executed in a singular method, the lights and shades being just brushed over, and the colours melted in with a hot iron. Fuller perhaps invented this method himself, and Addison wrote a poem in praise of it. While at Oxford he painted numerous portraits, and also copied Dobson's ‘Decollation of St. John,’ altering the heads to portraits of his own immediate friends. In London Fuller was much employed in decorative painting, especially in taverns, no doubt earning his entertainment thereby. The Mitre tavern in Fenchurch Street, and the Sun tavern near the Royal Exchange were among those adorned by him with suitable paintings. He painted the ceiling on the staircase of a house in Soho Square, and a ceiling at Painter-Stainers' Hall. As a portrait painter Fuller had some real power, and his own portrait, now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, is skilfully, if capriciously, executed; it shows him in a curious head-dress of an eastern character, and gives a good idea of his character. James Elsum [q. v.] wrote an epigram on it. There is an original drawing for it in the Dyce Collection at the South Kensington Museum, and Fuller himself made a small etching of it. A portrait of Fuller, drawn by G. Vertue, is in the print room at the British Museum. Among other portraits painted by Fuller were Samuel Butler, the poet, Pierce, the carver, and Ogilby, the author (these two were in the Strawberry Hill Collection, and the latter has been engraved by W. C. Edwards), Norris, the king's frame-maker (a picture much praised by Sir Peter Lely), Cleveland, the poet, Sir Kenelm Digby, and Latham, the statuary. Fuller painted five pictures on wood of some size, representing the adventures of Charles II after the battle of Worcester; these were presented to the parliament of Ireland, and subsequently were discovered in a state of neglect by Lord Clanbrassil, who had them repaired, and removed them to Tullamore Park, co. Down.

Isaac Fuller had also some skill as an etcher; he etched some plates of Tritons and mythological subjects in the style of Perrier. In 1654 he published a set of etchings entitled ‘Un libro di designare,’ which are very rare. He executed, with H. Cooke [q. v.] and others, the etchings in ‘Iconologia, or Morall Emblems,’ by Cæsar Ripa of Perugia, published by Pierce Tempest. In Dr. Thomas Fuller's [q. v.] ‘Pisgah-sight of Palestine’ (1650, bk. iv. chap. v.) there is a large folding plate of Jewish costumes, etched by Isaac Fuller. He perhaps also executed the plan of Jerusalem in the same book, on which the words ‘Fuller's Field’ occur in English. He was not connected by family with the author, and the costume of the portrait at Oxford suggests that he may have belonged to the Jewish race. Fuller died in Bloomsbury Square, London, on 17 July 1672. He left a son, who, according to Vertue, ‘principally was imployed in torch-painting, a very ingenious man, but living irregularly dyd young.’ Nothing further is known of his achievements.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting (ed. Dallaway and Wornum); Vertue's MSS. (Addit. MSS. Brit. Mus. 23068, etc.); De Piles's Lives of the Painters; Dodd's manuscript History of English Engravers; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Bailey's Life of Thomas Fuller; Cunningham's Handbook to London; Catalogue of the Dyce Collection, South Kens. Mus.]

L. C.