Bryan, Michael (DNB00)

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BRYAN, MICHAEL (1757–1821), connoisseur, was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 9 April 1757, and was educated at the grammar school of that town under Dr. Moyce. In 1781 he first visited London, whence he accompanied his elder brother to Flanders, where he became acquainted with, and afterwards married, the sister of the Earl of Shrewsbury. In Flanders he continued to reside, with the exception of occasional visits to England, until 1790, when he finally left the Low Countries and settled in London. In 1793 or 1794 Bryan again went to the continent in search of fine pictures. Among other places he visited Holland, and remained there until an order arrived from the French government to stop all the English then resident there. He was, among many others, detained at Rotterdam. It was here that he met M. L'Abord. In 1798 Bryan was applied to by L'Abord for his advice and assistance in disposing of the Italian part of the Orleans collection of pictures. He communicated the circumstance to the Duke of Bridgewater, and his grace authorised him to treat for their purchase. After a negotiation of three weeks, the duke, with the Marquis of Stafford, then Lord Gower, and the Earl of Carlisle, became the purchasers, at the price of 43,500l. In 1801 Bryan obtained, through the medium of the Duke of Bridgewater, the king's permission to visit Paris for the purpose of selecting from the cabinet of M. Robit such objects of art as he might deem worthy of bringing to England. Among other fine pictures, he brought from Paris two by Murillo, the one representing the infant Christ as the Good Shepherd, and the other the infant St. John with a lamb. In 1804 Bryan left the picture world, and retired to his brother's in Yorkshire, where he remained until 1811. In 1812 Bryan again visited London, and commenced his 'Biographical and Critical Dictionary of Painters and Engravers,' 2 vols. 4to. The first part appeared in May 1813, and concluded in 1816. Another edition appeared in 1849, and Mr. R. E. Graves is bringing out in parts a new and thoroughly revised edition (1886). In 1818 he connected himself in some picture speculations, which proved a failure. On 14 Feb. 1821 he was seized with a severe paralytic stroke, and died on 21 March following.

[Literary Gazette, 1821, p. 187; Magazine of the Fine Arts, i. 37; MS. notes in British Museum.]

L. F.