Reynolds, Samuel William (1773-1835) (DNB00)

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REYNOLDS, SAMUEL WILLIAM (1773–1835), mezzotint engraver and landscape painter, was born on 4 July 1773. His father was the son of a planter in the West Indies, and was himself born there, but, being sent in his youth to England for education, settled here permanently, and married a Miss Sarah Hunt. Young Reynolds studied in the schools of the Royal Academy, and under William Hodges, R.A. [q. v.], and was taught mezzotint engraving by John Raphael Smith [q. v.] In 1797 he scraped a plate of ‘The Relief of Prince Adolphus and Marshal Freytag,’ after Mather Brown, which shows a complete mastery of the art, and during the next twenty years produced many fine works, including ‘The Vulture and Lamb,’ ‘The Falconer,’ ‘Leopards,’ ‘Vulture and Snake,’ and ‘Heron and Spaniel,’ all after Northcote; ‘A Land Storm,’ after Morland; portraits of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir J. F. Leicester, and Lady Harcourt, after Sir J. Reynolds; portraits of Lady Elizabeth Whitbread and the Duchess of Bedford, after Hoppner; ‘The Jew Merchant,’ after Rembrandt; and ‘The Rainbow,’ after Rubens. He also engraved a great number of portraits and compositions by Dance, Jackson, Owen, Stephanoff, Bonington, Sir Robert Ker Porter, and others, and was one of the artists employed by Turner upon his ‘Liber Studiorum.’ Reynolds worked with great rapidity, and his plates are executed in a vigorous and masterly style, etching being employed to strengthen the mezzotint with unexampled success.

Early in life Reynolds secured for himself and his family the continuous friendship and patronage of Samuel Whitbread [q. v.], and through that gentleman's connection with Drury Lane Theatre he became intimate with Sheridan and Edmund Kean. He frequently visited the theatre to assist the latter in making up his face for the part of Othello. He was engaged as drawing-master to the royal princesses, and through them was offered more than one post at court, which he declined, but he accepted the appointment of engraver to the king, although he refused the honour of knighthood. He drew and engraved a remarkable portrait of George III (with a beard) in extreme old age, which he published in 1820. Throughout his career he practised oil and water-colour painting, and exhibited landscapes and other subjects at the Royal Academy and the British Institution from 1797. His landscapes, which are very original and powerful in treatment, went largely to France and Germany, and are consequently little known in this country. Some good examples of his water-colour work are in the British Museum.

In 1809 Reynolds paid his first visit to Paris, and in 1810 and 1812 exhibited engravings at the Salon. Between 1820 and 1826 he issued, in four volumes, a series of 357 small but admirable plates of all the then accessible works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, with whom he claimed relationship. Upon the completion of this he revisited Paris, where his work, both in painting and engraving, created much enthusiasm among French artists, several of whom became his pupils. An article, which appeared at the time in ‘L'Artiste,’ describing Reynolds's extraordinary talents, is quoted by Beraldi (Les Graveurs du XIXe Siècle). Reynolds scraped a considerable number of plates in France, including ‘The Raft of the Medusa,’ after Géricault; ‘La Bonne Fille,’ after Mme. Haudebourg-Lescot; ‘The Massacre of the Innocents,’ after Leon Cogniet; ‘Mazeppa,’ after Horace Vernet; a few fancy subjects after Dubufe; and some clever studies after Charlet. Several of these were exhibited at the Salon in 1827. Reynolds commenced a large plate from Constable's picture ‘The Lock,’ which he did not live to complete; a letter from him, in praise of the original, is printed in Leslie's ‘Life of Constable.’ He was a skilful landscape-gardener, and laid out the grounds of Southall and Mount Edgcumbe. Reynolds had many pupils, the ablest of whom were Samuel Cousins [q. v.], David Lucas, and John Lucas [q. v.]

He died of paralysis at Ivy Cottage, Bayswater, where he had long resided, on 13 Aug. 1835. His collections, which consisted chiefly of his own drawings and engravings, were dispersed at Christie's in the following April. By his wife, Jane Cowen, to whom he was married in 1793, and who survived him some years, enjoying an annuity from the Whitbread family, Reynolds had two sons and three daughters. The elder son is noticed below. Of his daughters, Elizabeth, an able miniaturist, married William Walker (1791–1877) [q. v.], and Frances exhibited miniatures at the Academy (1828–1830).

A small portrait of Reynolds, etched by Edward Bell, was published by A. E. Evans in 1855. A portrait by his friend Ary Scheffer is at Dordrecht. In a humorous water-colour drawing by A. E. Chalon, now in the print room of the British Museum, representing artists at work in the gallery of the British Institution in 1805, Reynolds, seated at his easel, is a prominent figure. A fine portrait of Mrs. Reynolds, painted by Opie, is in the possession of the family; another is at Panshanger, the seat of Earl Cowper.

Samuel William Reynolds (1794–1872), the elder son, commenced life as private secretary to his father's patron, Samuel Whitbread, who had undertaken to provide for him; but on the sudden death of that gentleman in 1815 he became a pupil of William Owen (1769–1825) [q. v.], and for some years practised with success as a portrait-painter, exhibiting at the academy from 1820 to 1845. He was also taught mezzotint engraving by his father; and when the health of the latter began to fail, to some extent gave up painting, in order to assist him in the completion of his commissions. This led to his eventually devoting himself entirely to engraving. In consequence of the identity of christian names, the plates of the younger Reynolds are often confused with those of his father, but, though executed in a somewhat similar style, they are altogether inferior. They consist chiefly of portraits after Sir Francis Grant, Henry Wyndham Phillips, and other contemporary painters, with a few from pictures by the old masters. A very clever set of etchings by him, from sketches by the Hon. Carolina Boyle, was published, with the title ‘Liber Nugarum.’ Reynolds died at Felpham, Sussex, on 7 July 1872. By his wife, Emma Humby, he had five children, the eldest of whom, Frank, practised portrait-painting, and died at Scarborough in 1895.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1893; Chavignerie's Dictionnaire des Artistes de l'École Française; private information.]

F. M. O'D.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.233
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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73 ii 17f.e. Reynolds, Samuel W.: after 1855. insert A portrait by his friend, Ary Scheffer, is at Dordrecht.