Harding, George Perfect (DNB00)

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HARDING, GEORGE PERFECT (d. 1853), portrait-painter and copyist, was a son of Silvester Harding [q. v.] of Pall Mall. Adopting his father's profession, he practised miniature-painting, and exhibited at the Royal Academy at intervals between 1802 and 1840; but, like his father, he mainly devoted himself to making water-colour copies of ancient historical portraits. In his pursuit of this occupation he visited the chief family seats of the nobility, the royal palaces, college halls, &c., and the highly finished copies which he executed are of great value as faithful transcripts of the originals. In 1822-3 he published a series of eighteen portraits of the deans of Westminster, engraved by J. Stow, R. Grave, and others, intended to illustrate Neale and Brayley's 'History of Westminster Abbey.' This was followed in 1825 by 'Ancient Oil Paintings and Sepulchral Brasses in the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster,' with descriptions by Thomas Moule, F.S.A. Among many important historical works to which he supplied the plates was J. H. Jesse's 'Memoirs of the Court of England during the Reign of the Stuarts,' 1840. He gave much time to the preparation of a manuscript account of the Princes of Wales, elaborately illustrated with portraits and heraldic devices, which is now in the royal library at Windsor. Of this he issued a privately printed description in 1828. In 1840 Harding took a leading part in establishing the Granger Society (named after the author of the 'Biographical History of England'), the object of which was the publication of previously unengraved historical portraits. In his drawings he had accumulated a store of material for this purpose, but through mismanagement and lack of support the society came to an end, after publishing a few excellent prints, early in 1843. Harding then carried on the work on his own account, and during the next five years issued a series of fifteen plates, engraved by Joseph Brown and W. Greatbach, with biographical notices by Mr. Moule. The copperplates of these afterwards passed into the hands of Mr. J. Russell Smith of Soho Square, who reissued the work in 1869. Harding was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1839, but withdrew in 1847. Towards the end of his life he fell into pecuniary difficulties, and was compelled to sell his collections of drawings. He died at Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, where he had resided for more than thirty years, on 23 Dec. 1853. He left a large family by a second wife. His portrait was engraved by J. Brown, from a miniature by himself, in 1826. A collection of his works is in the print room of the British Museum.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists; Gent. Mag. new ser. xli. 548; Brit. Mus. Library Catalogue.]

F. M. O'D.