1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Poynter, Sir Edward John
POYNTER, SIR EDWARD JOHN, BART. (1836–), English painter, son of Ambrose Poynter, architect, was born in Paris on the 20th of March 1836. He pursued his art studies in England and in Paris (under Gleyre, 1856–1859), and exhibited his first picture at the Royal Academy in 1861. In 1869, after the exhibition of “Israel in Egypt” and “The Catapult,” he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1876, the year of “Atalanta's Race,” full Academician.
In the decorative arts he practised freely as a designer in fresco, mosaic, stained glass, pottery, tile-work and the like. While still quite a young man, he was encouraged by the architect William Burges, A.R.A., to design panels for his quaint Gothic cabinets; Messrs Powell obtained from him cartoons of designs for stained glass; for the decoration of Waltham Abbey church he was employed on a series of thirty important designs. Attracted by these, Dalziel Brothers commissioned a number of full-page drawings on wood for the illustration of their celebrated “Bible Gallery.” The cartoons for “St George” and “St David,” the mosaic panels now embellishing the outer lobby of the Palace of Westminster, were produced in 1870, and they were followed by the “Apelles” and “Phidias,” in the same method of reproduction, in the Victoria and Albert Museum; by the important series of frescoes in St Stephen's, Dulwich—scenes from the life of the saint; by the decoration of the grill room at the Museum at South Kensington, with the tiles en camaïeu—an achievement strikingly successful and pregnant with results. Always a lover of water-colour drawing and of the art of landscape painting, he was elected to the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1883. In 1874 he designed the Ashantee medal; and in 1892, for the coinage of that year, the reverse of the shilling and florin, to the obverse of Mr Thomas Brock, R.A. When the art teaching centre of South Kensington was assuming the importance it has since attained, Mr Poynter was appointed director for art in the Science and Art Department, and principal of the National Art Training Schools (now the Royal College of Art), and by virtue of his vigorous and successful administration he invested his office with a distinction which, after his resignation in 1881, it soon notoriously lacked. The directorship of the National Gallery became vacant in 1894, and Poynter, profoundly versed in the works of the Old Masters, especially of the Italian schools, was appointed to the post, which he held for ten years. Under his rule the National Gallery of British Art, at Millbank, presented by the late Sir Henry Tate, became a department of the National Gallery, and thither were removed many pictures formerly in the British rooms at Trafalgar Square, as well as the Chantrey Collection from South Kensington, &c. One of the most important services by the director was the editing of the great Illustrated Catalogue of the National Gallery (1889–1900), in which every picture in the collection is reproduced-an unprecedented achievement in the annals of art-publishing.
On the death of Sir John Millais in 1896, Poynter was elected to the presidency of the Royal Academy, and was knighted. He was made a baronet in 1902.
Paintings.—Among Sir Edward Poynter's most notable pictures have been the following: “Israel in Egypt” (1867); “The Catapult” (1868); “Perseus and Andromeda” (1872); “Atalanta's Race” (1876); “The Fortune-Teller” (1877); “Nausicaa and Her Maidens” (1879); “Visit to Aesculapius” (1880), now in the Chantrey Collection in the Tate Gallery; “The ldes of March” (1883); “Diadumenè” (1885), now destroyed; “On the Terrace” (1889); “The Meeting of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba” (1891); “Horae Serenae” and “Idle Fears” (1894), and numerous portraits and water-colour drawings.
Lectures.—In his series of Slade Lectures, delivered from 1875 to 1879, and first published in 1879 (republished, with additions, in 1897), Sir Edward Poynter deals with the whole subject of art education, considering in turn Decorative Art, Old and New Art, Systems of Art Education, Hints on the Formation of a Style, Training of Art Students, The Study of Nature, The Value of Things, Objects of Study, Professor Ruskin on Michelangelo (hotly controversial in tone), Influence of Art in Social Life, and Ancient Decorative Art.
See also Cosmo Monkhouse, “Sir E. J. Poynter, P.R.A.: His Life and Work,” Art Annual (1897); M. H. Spielmann, “Sir E. J. Poynter, P.R.A., and his Studies,” The Magazine of Art (1897).