Moser, George Michael (DNB00)

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MOSER, GEORGE MICHAEL (1704–1783), chaser and enameller, son of Michael Moser, an eminent Swiss engineer and worker in metal, was born at Schaff hausen in 1704. He studied at Geneva, and, coming early to England, was first employed by a cabinet-maker in Soho, named Trotter, as a chaser of brass ornaments for furniture. He subsequently rose to be head of his profession as a gold-chaser, medallist, and enameller, and was particularly distinguished for the compositions in enamel with which he ornamented the backs of watches, bracelets, and other trinkets. A beautiful example of this work was a watch-case executed for Queen Charlotte, adorned with whole-length figures of her two eldest children, for which he received 'a hatful of guineas.' Moser was drawing-master to George III during his boyhood, and on his accession to the throne was employed to engrave his first great seal. When the art school afterwards known as the St. Martin's Lane Academy was established about 1736, in Greyhound Court, Strand, he became manager and treasurer, and continued in that position until the school was absorbed in the Royal Academy. Moser was an original member, and afterwards a director, of the Incorporated Society of Artists, whose seal he designed and executed, and was one of the twenty-one directors whose retirement, in 1767, led to the establishment of the Royal Academy. To Moser's zeal and energy the latter event was largely due. In association with Chambers, West, and Cotes he framed the constitution of the new body, and on 28 Nov. 1768 presented the memorial to the king asking for his patronage. He became a foundation member, and was elected the first keeper, having rooms assigned to him in Somerset House. For this position he was well qualified by his powers as a draughtsman and knowledge of the human figure, while his ability and devotion as a teacher gained for him the strong affection of the pupils. Moser was greatly esteemed in private life, and enjoyed the friendship of Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith, and other literary celebrities of his day. According to Prior, he once greatly mortified Goldsmith by stopping him in the middle of a vivacious harangue with the exclamation, 'Stay, stay! Toctor Shonson's going to say something' (Life of Goldsmith, ii. 459). He died at Somerset House on 24 Jan. 1783, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, his funeral being attended by almost all his fellow-academicians and pupils. On the day after Moser's death a notice of him from the pen of Sir Joshua Reynolds was published, in which he was described as the first goldchaser in the kingdom, possessed of a universal knowledge of all branches of painting and sculpture, and 'in every sense the father of the present race of artists.' In early life he had known Hogarth, John Ellys, Rysbrach, Vanderbank, and Roubiliac. He left an only daughter, Mary, who is noticed separately. Moser appears arranging the model in ZofFany's picture at Windsor, 'The Life School of the Royal Academy,' engraved by Earlom. A good portrait of him, accompanied by his daughter, belongs to Lord Ashcombe.

[Edwards's Anecd. of Painting, 1806; J. T. Smith's Nollekens and his Times, 1828; W. Sandby's Hist, of the Royal Academy, 1862; Leslie and Taylor's Life of Sir J. Reynolds, 1865; Boswell's Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill, ii. 258 n.; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; European Mag 1803, ii. 83; Gent. Mag. 1783, i. 94, 180.]

F. M. O'D.