Ryland, William Wynne (DNB00)

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RYLAND, WILLIAM WYNNE (1732–1783), engraver, born in the Old Bailey, London, in July 1732, was the eldest of seven sons of Edward Ryland, a native of Wales, who came to London and worked as an engraver and copperplate printer in the Old Bailey, where he died on 26 July 1771. Young Ryland was apprenticed to Simon François Ravenet [q. v.] in London, and, after the expiration of his articles, he was assisted by his godfather, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, to visit France and Italy in company with a former schoolfellow named Howard and Gabriel Smith, the engraver. He remained in Paris about five years, studying drawing under François Boucher, and engraving under Jacques Philippe Le Bas. In 1757 he gained a medal for a study from the life at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, and while abroad he engraved several plates after the old masters and from the compositions of Boucher. On his return to England, soon after the accession of George III, he was commissioned to engrave Allan Ramsay's full-length portraits of the king and of the Earl of Bute, which had been declined by Sir Robert Strange, and afterwards that of Queen Charlotte with the infant princess royal, after Francis Cotes, R.A. He thus secured the patronage and friendship of George III, and received the appointment of engraver to the king, with an annual salary of 200l.

Ryland had in 1761 sent his plate of ‘Jupiter and Leda,’ after Boucher, to the exhibition of the Society of Artists, of which he became a member on its incorporation in 1765. In 1767 he exhibited his plate of George III in coronation robes, after Ramsay, and in 1769 three drawings. After this he exhibited only a few drawings after Angelica Kauffmann and some small portraits at the Royal Academy between 1772 and 1775.

Some time after his return from abroad he adopted the ‘chalk’ or dotted manner of engraving, which he had introduced into England, and carried to a higher degree of perfection than it had ever before attained. The plates which he executed in this popular style were chiefly after the works of Angelica Kauffmann, R.A., and included ‘Juno borrowing the Cestus of Venus,’ ‘The Judgment of Paris,’ ‘Venus Triumphant,’ ‘Venus presenting Helen to Paris,’ ‘The Flight of Paris with Helen,’ ‘Cupid Bound,’ ‘Cupid Asleep,’ ‘A Sacrifice to Pan,’ ‘Cymon and Iphigenia,’ ‘Achilles lamenting the Death of Patroclus,’ ‘Telemachus at the Court of Sparta,’ ‘Penelope awakened by Euryclea,’ ‘Patience,’ ‘Perseverance,’ ‘Faith’ and ‘Hope,’ ‘Eleanor, the wife of Edward I, sucking the Poison from his Wound,’ ‘Lady Elizabeth Grey soliciting of Edward IV the restoration of her deceased Husband's Lands,’ ‘Maria’ (from Sterne's ‘Sentimental Journey’), a full-length of Mary, duchess of Richmond, in a Grecian dress, and a companion plate of a lady in a Turkish costume. Among other works by him were ‘Antiochus and Stratonice,’ after Pietro da Cortona, engraved in line for Boydell's collection; ‘Charity,’ after Vandyck; ‘The Graces Bathing,’ after François Boucher; four plates of ‘The Muses,’ after G. B. Cipriani, R.A.; fourteen plates from the designs of Samuel Wale, R.A., for Sir John Hawkins's edition of Walton's ‘Angler,’ published in 1760; and fifty-seven plates for Charles Rogers's ‘Collection of Prints in imitation of Drawings,’ completed in 1778, as well as the fine mezzotint portrait of Rogers, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, prefixed to that work.

Ryland was at one time in possession of a handsome income. It is stated that he made no less than 3,000l. a year by the sale of his engravings, and a friend had left him an eleventh share in the Liverpool waterworks, valued at 10,000l. Infatuated by his prosperity he launched out into every kind of expense. Tiring of a sedentary life, he entered into partnership with his pupil, Henry Bryer, and they together opened a print-shop in Cornhill, where they carried on a very extensive business until December 1771, when they became bankrupt. After an interval Ryland resumed business as a print-seller in the Strand, but before long he retired to a private residence at Knightsbridge, from which he disappeared on 1 April 1783. On the following day an advertisement was issued offering a reward of 300l. for his apprehension on a charge of forging and uttering two bills of exchange for 7,114l. with intent to defraud the East India Company. On the arrival of the officers to arrest him in a small house near Stepney, he made a desperate attempt to commit suicide by cutting his throat. On 27 July he was tried at the Old Bailey before Sir Francis Buller, convicted, and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Tyburn on 29 Aug. 1783, the execution being delayed some time by a violent thunderstorm, and was buried at Feltham, Middlesex. He left a widow and six children, for whose benefit two plates left by him unfinished, ‘King John ratifying Magna Charta,’ after John Hamilton Mortimer, A.R.A., and ‘The Interview between Edgar and Elfrida after her Marriage with Athelwold,’ after Angelica Kauffmann, R.A., were completed respectively by Francesco Bartolozzi, R.A., and by William Sharp. His widow kept a print-shop for many years in Oxford Road, and his daughter became a teacher of drawing, and instructed the Princess Elizabeth and others of the royal family. One of Ryland's brothers was in 1762 convicted of highway robbery, committed in a drunken frolic, and was reprieved only on the morning of the day of execution through his brother's personal influence with the king.

There is a medallion portrait in profile of Ryland, engraved by D. P. Pariset from a drawing made by Pierre Étienne Falconet in 1768, of which a smaller copy was published in 1783. The Rev. Mr. Cotton, ordinary of Newgate, had a drawing of Ryland for which he sat while in prison after his trial. A copy of it, by Robert Graves, A.R.A., is in the possession of the writer of this article.

[Authentic Memoirs of William Wynne Ryland, 1784; Dodd's Memoirs of English Engravers, xi. 104–10 (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 33404); Noble's Catalogue of Engravers, 1806, manuscript in possession of R. E. Graves; Roberts's Memoir of Hannah More, i. 280; Strutt's Biogr. Dict. of Engravers, 1785–6, ii. 285; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School, 1878; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–9, ii. 432; Exhibition Catalogues of the Incorporated Society of Artists, 1761–9, and of the Royal Academy, 1772–5.]

R. E. G.