Cousins, Samuel (DNB00)

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COUSINS, SAMUEL (1801–1887), mezzotint engraver, was born at Exeter 9 May 1801. His father had five sons and four daughters. His early education was in the Exeter episcopal school, and while there he showed great taste for art, spending most of his spare time in copying engravings with the pencil. Captain Bagnall accidentally saw some of Cousins's drawings in a shop window; bought several, and sent him to the Society of Arts. Cousins was then under ten years of age. He gained, on 28 May 1811, the silver palette of the Society of Arts for a drawing after a print by James Heath representing 'The Good Shepherd' painted by Murillo. In the following year Cousins received the silver Isis medal for another pencil drawing, the subject of which was 'A Magdalen.' This was seen by S. W. Reynolds, the mezzotint engraver, who in September 1814 took the youth as apprentice without receiving the usual premium, which amounted to 300l. Sir Thomas Dyke Acland was a warm patron, and took care that the boy's education should be carried on. After finishing his apprenticeship he reluctantly consented, at Acland's desire, to become assistant to his master for four years, at a salary of 250l. On four plates—portraits of Sir Joseph Banks, the Rev. T. Lupton, Viscount Sidmouth, and the Rev. J. Mitchell—executed between 1822 and 1825, the name of Reynolds is associated with that of Cousins. On 19 Feb. 1824 Cousins wrote: 'I have been lately finishing a half-length plate from a picture by Sir W. Beechy. It is a portrait of the Duchess of Gloucester, a tolerably good plate, and I am to have my name to it; but I believe it will not be seen abroad much, and therefore will be of little use. . . . Mr. Reynolds has taken another pupil, . . . and by his improved behaviour towards me certainly intends keeping me as long as he can.' At the end of his four years' partnership Cousins set up for himself at 104 Great Russell Street. In 1826 he visited Brussels, and in this same year he engraved the first plate on his own account, the portrait of Lady Acland and her children, and also 'Master Lambton,' after Sir Thomas Lawrence. In November 1835 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, transferred to the new class of associate-engravers in 1854, and was the first to receive, 10 Feb. 1855, the rank of academician-engraver. He determined in 1874 to retire, but was induced to undertake new work, and did not entirely give up his art until 1883. He died at his house, 24 Camden Square, 7 May 1887. He never married. A sister lived with him during the greatest part of his life, and survived him. One of his latest works was an engraving of his own portrait by Mr. Long (1883). He was also painted by Mr. Frank Holl in 1879, and etched by M. Waltner. In January and March 1872 Cousins deposited in the department of prints and drawings, British Museum, an almost complete set of his engravings, and presented a small set to the Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. He also gave about that period 15,000l. to the Royal Academy in trust for the benefit of deserving and poor artists. In 1877 Messrs. Thomas Agnew & Sons held an exhibition of Cousins's works at Manchester; in 1883 another exhibition took place at the Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, and a third exhibition was held in the season of 1887 at Messrs. H. Graves & Co.'s, Pall Mall. The following is a list of the most important engravings by Cousins: Lady Acland and children, after Lawrence (1826); Master Lambton, after Lawrence (1826); Pope Pius VII, after Lawrence (1827); Lady Grey and children, after Lawrence (1830); the Earl of Aberdeen, after Lawrence; 'The Maid of Saragossa,' after Wilkie (1831); 'Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time,' after Landseer (1837); Queen Victoria, after Chalon (1838); Duke of Wellington as chancellor of Oxford, after Lucas (1840); 'Queen Victoria receiving the Sacrament at her Coronation,' after Leslie (1840); Sir R. Peel, after Lawrence (1850); 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' after Landseer (1857); 'The Maid of the Magpie,' after Landseer (1862); 'Piper and Pair of Nutcrackers,' after Landseer (1865); 'The Strawberry Girl,' after Reynolds (1873); 'Yes or No,' after Millais (1873); 'Simplicity,' after Reynolds (1874); Lady Caroline Montague as 'Winter' after Reynolds (1875); Moretta, a Venetian girl, after Leighton (1875), and Lavinia, Countess Spencer, after Reynolds (1877); Cardinal Newman, after Lady Coleridge (1877); 'Ninette,' after Greuze (1877); 'Cherry Ripe,' after Millais (1881); and 'Pomona,'after Millais (1882).

[Mr. George Pycroft's privately printed Memoir of Samuel Cousins, 1887, supplies a full chronological list of Cousins's works. See also Artists at Home, 1 April 1884, pt. ii. p. 19.]

L. F.