Buck, Samuel (DNB00)

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BUCK, SAMUEL (1696–1779), engraver and topographical draughtsman, drew and engraved 428 views of the ruins of all the noted abbeys, castles, &c., together with four views of seats and eighty-three large general views of the chief cities and towns of England and Wales. The smaller series of abbeys, &c., were first issued in parts, each containing twenty-four views. From 1711 to 1726 Buck was his own engraver as well as draughtsman. From 1727 to 1753 he was assisted in both branches of the work by his brother, Nathaniel Buck, who died many years before him. From the title to the fifth part, issued in 1730, and dated from the ‘Golden Buck in Warwick Street near Golden Square, St. James's,’ we learn that their summers were devoted to making their drawings, and their winters to working up the plates at home, which were always finished within the twelve months. The first two sets were those for Yorkshire, 1711–25, and Lincoln and Nottinghamshire, 1726 (S. Buck del. et sculp.). The earliest joint productions of the two brothers were those for Cheshire, Derby, and Lancashire, 1727, followed by those for Durham and Northumberland, 1728; Northampton, Oxford, and Warwick, 1729; Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, and Huntingdon, Leicester, and Rutland, 1730; Hereford, Shropshire, Stafford, and Worcester, 1731; Gloucester, Monmouthshire, and Wiltshire, 1732; Berkshire, 1732–3; Dorset, Hampshire, and Isle of Wight, 1733; Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset, 1734; Kent, 1735; two large views of Plymouth, 1736; Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Surrey, and Sussex, 1737; Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, 1738 (after this period the prints were dated from No. 1 Garden Court, Middle Temple); Cumberland and Westmoreland, 1739; South Wales, 1740–1; and North Wales, 1742. About sixty-three of the larger views of cities were done at the same time. Among the remaining twenty done later may be mentioned Ely, 1743; Berwick-upon-Tweed, 1745; two of Richmond in Yorkshire; and the four famous large views of London and Westminster from Bankside, all of which bear the date of 1749; the whole series terminating with a second large view of Birmingham, 1753. The whole of these views were afterwards republished in a collective form as ‘Buck's Antiquities or Venerable Remains of above 400 Castles, &c., in England and Wales, with near 100 Views of Cities,’ London, R. Sayer, 3 vols. folio; preceded by historical accounts and the double portraits of S. and N. Buck (J. Highmore pinx.; R. Houston sculp.), 1774. The prints were finished with the graver in a stiff manner, the backgrounds slightly etched. Samuel Buck's original drawings were sometimes hasty and slight, but many of them were elaborately finished with pen and ink and tinted. Some of these were exhibited at the Spring Gardens Exhibition in 1768, 1774, and at the Academy in 1775. Eleven of the larger drawings of cities were sold in London in 1882 and fetched high prices; among them was one of Oxford, never engraved. These last are now preserved at 53 Fleet Street, London, formerly the Golden Buck, the sign being evidently borrowed. The value and real use of Buck's labours can be perhaps better appreciated by the antiquary and the ecclesiologist than the print-collector. As a painstaking delineator of architectural remains long since destroyed Buck has never been surpassed for truthfulness of detail, often conveyed at the sacrifice of general effect. His latter days were, like those of his fellow-draughtsman Hollar, embittered by distress, which was, however, met by liberal subscriptions collected on his behalf; but he died a few months after, at the ripe age of 83, on 17 Aug. 1779, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Clement Danes, London.

[Gent. Mag. xlix. (1779), pp. 68, 424; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of English School (1878), p. 60; London Evening Post, 20–23 March 1742.]

C. H. C.