A Dictionary of Artists of the English School/Preface
This work was begun upon an experience of the little information readily attainable respecting the Artists of the English School. For some years several special opportunities which arose have been diligently used, and every means taken, to collect such facts as might be obtained; but it was painful to find how little was known, or could be learnt, of many who, in their own day, if not in ours, had been distinguished, and how often the few facts which in some cases still existed were at variance. While it cannot be assumed that this work is free from errors, or that all who ought to find a place have been included, it will be a great satisfaction to the author to correct hereafter any mistakes or omissions that may be kindly pointed out.
A succession of native artists, many of whose works exist, and are prized, may be traced from the time of Henry VII.; while of the artists themselves, the few facts which in some cases have been preserved, are beyond the reach of ordinary means of reference. The collected art-biographies we possess are general, and the notices of our countrymen which are included in them seem rather the result of chance than of any effort to attain completeness.
The present work appears to be the first to combine, in a dictionary form, some account of the Artists of the English School exclusively, and to include the Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers, and Ornamentists; and the number who have been thought deserving a place is probably ten times greater than will be found in any other work. The materials have not only been collected from all the ordinary sources of references, but much information has been sought in out-of-the-way places, and has been the result of private and personal enquiries.
The aim of the Compiler has been to include the name of every artist whose works may give interest to his memory, whether to the lover of art, the art-collector, or the antiquary. The limitation to the Artists of the English School has not heen followed so strictly as to include only those born in this country. Many foreign artists who came to England in their youth, learnt their art here, practised it here, and died here, could not be omitted; nor could, indeed, some others whose title to insertion may not be so clear. But in every case foreign artists who held any public appointment or employment here, or who have been connected with the art institutions of the country, have been included; though, in taking this course, it is not necessarily intended to claim such artists as of the English School.
Regarding the scope of the work, it may be objected that the names of artists have been inserted who have left little by which they merit remembrance. Possibly so. But, on the other hand, it is not the artist alone of whose works and memory there are ample records, so much as the obscure and forgotten, whose works are rarely met with, of whom information is desired, and frequently sought in vain. Also in the scale of the memoirs, of an indifferent artist information may abound; of one of eminence, concerning whom every fact would be valued, the particulars which exist are meagre in the extreme. The time seems past when they could be supplied, and the few facts given are all that in many such cases it appeared possible to save from oblivion.
Of the early architects, the names of the chief of those are included which appear in many documents under the title of 'Devisor,' 'Supervisor,' 'Director,' 'Master Mason,' 'Clerk of the Works,' &c., some of whom held high Church preferment. But the doubts often expressed are fully shared by the Author as to how far such officers may claim the distinction of architect, as the name is now applied, of many of the noble early works which have been attributed to them.
In the alphabetical arrangement, all names with a prefix have been classed under the initial letter of the prefix. Thus names commencing Van, Von, Van der, Von der, Le, La, De, Di, Della, &c., have been subjected to this arrangement. They refer chiefly to foreigners or their descendants, and it will be found that when such names become acclimatised, the prefix is naturally absorbed in the proper name, and no longer maintains its separate form. In the orthography of names, which hardly became settled till nearly the middle of the last century, the most recently accepted spelling has been adopted.
The Author received, in the progress of this work, so much kind assistance, not alone from friends, but from many others of whom he solicited information, that he regrets he is only able to acknowledge generally the valued help given to him, and the great obligations he has incurred.
- November, 1873.