Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Faithorne, William (1616-1691)

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FAITHORNE, WILLIAM, the elder (1616–1691), engraver and portrait-painter, was born in London in 1616, and studied first under William Peake, painter to Charles I. After working with him for three years he became a pupil of John Payne, and subsequently of Sir Robert Peake. On the outbreak of the civil war Faithorne took up arms in defence of his prince, joined the royal army, and was together with his master and Wenceslaus Hollar in garrison at Basing House, the residence of the Marquis of Winchester. At its surrender he was made prisoner of war and confined in Aldersgate. On his release he was banished for refusing to take the oath to Oliver Cromwell. While in prison he engraved several heads of noblemen, among them the rare portrait of the Duke of Buckingham, engraved in the manner of Claude Mellan. Having been transported to France, while residing in Paris he became the esteemed friend of the celebrated collector, Michel de Marolles, abbé de Villeloin, whose magnificent collection of 123,400 prints was acquired by Colbert for Louis XIV in 1667 for 30,400 livres. The abbé readily assisted Faithorne with the use of any print he desired to copy, and after spending several months in that capital working under Robert Nanteuil he obtained, in 1650, permission to return to England, married a sister of Captain Grand, and settled in a house without Temple Bar at the sign of the Drake, against the Palsgrave's Head Tavern. Here Faithorne resided for several years, selling prints executed by him and other masters. About 1680 he quitted the shop and took a house in Printing House Yard, Blackfriars, where he drew many portraits in crayons, including those of Francis le Piper, Colonel John Ayres, Joseph Alleine, John Smith, John Sturt, and John Oliver, surveyor of the works at St. Paul's. He died in May 1691, and was buried on the 13th of that month in St. Anne's, Blackfriars. Thomas Flatman, in a poem in memory of his friend, says:—

    A Faithorne Sculpsit is a charm can save
    From dull oblivion, and a gaping grave.

Faithorne engraved numerous portraits, book-plates, maps, title-pages, &c. Among the former should be specially mentioned those of Elizabeth sitting between Lord Burghley and Sir F. Walsingham. This group is prefixed to ‘The Compleat Ambassador. … Faythfully collected by the truly Honourable Sir Dudley Diggs, knt.,’ London, 1655, fol.; Charles I, nearly to the waist, in oval, in armour (frontispiece to ‘A Compleat History of the Life and Raigne of King Charles from his Cradle to his Grave,’ by William Sanderson, London, 1658, fol.); Henrietta Maria, to the waist, to the left, with pearls and jewels on her breast; the first state, before the dress was re-engraved, realised at the Sykes's sale in 1824 7l. 12s. 6d. Charles II, nearly to the waist, to the right, in armour, with the following inscription below: ‘The Second Charles, Heire of ye Royall Martyr …;’ the first state realised at the Sykes's sale 31l. 10s., and at the Marshall's sale in 1864 48l. Catherine of Braganza, in the dress in which she arrived, Sykes's sale, 44l. 2s. Faithorne's drawing in Indian ink sold at the Bindley sale in 1819 for 10s. 6d. Prince Rupert, after William Dobson, in oval, almost full face, first state, Sykes's sale, 9l. 19s. 6d. Another portrait of Prince Rupert, after Vandyck, realised at the Sykes's sale 14l. 14s. Of this portrait there exists a copy, which may be easily distinguished by the absence of some small dots, towards both ends of the shadow of the inner part of the oval, towards the right. Christina, queen of Sweden, in oval, to the left; this is a reversed copy of Robert Nanteuil's print. Robert Bruce, Earl of Aylesbury, in oval, to the right. Mary Alston, Sykes's sale 15l. 4s. 6d., prefixed to ‘The Churches Triumph over Death,’ by Edward Reynolds, D.D., London, 1662, 8vo. Elias Ashmole, prefixed to ‘Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum …’ by E. A., London, 1652, 4to. Frances Bridges, daughter of William, fourth lord Chandos, after Vandyck, Bindley's sale, 13l. 10s. Barbara Villiers, Countess Castlemain, Duchess of Cleveland, to the waist, almost full face, resting her head on her left arm, Corrie's sale, 1863, 36l. A magnificent proof of this print, traditionally said to have been presented by Faithorne to Mariette, whose signature appears on the back of the impression, dated 1668, was sold in 1887 at the Roupell sale, and is now in the collection of Mr. Alfred Morrison. Pepys, in his ‘Memoirs,’ mentions having seen the drawing at Faithorne's house, and speaks of it as the finest thing he had ever seen, adding that he offered to buy it, and that the artist promised to sell it to him when he had finished his plate from it, on which work he was then engaged. Oliver Cromwell, between the pillars, in armour, with sword in right hand, an open book in the other; the first state, before the cross-hatching on the book; it sold at the Ord's sale in 1827 for 42l.; in later impression the head of William III has been substituted for that of Cromwell; an impression in this state is in the Pepysian collection at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Thomas, lord Fairfax, after Robert Walker, nearly to the waist, in armour; the first state, before artist's and publisher's address, realised at the Sykes's sale 13l. 10s.; there are three copies of this interesting portrait. Sir Bevil Grenville, to the waist, in armour, prefixed to ‘Verses by the University of Oxford on the Death of the most Noble and Right Valiant Sir Bevill Grenvill …’ Oxford, 1684, 8vo. Thomas Killigrew, after William Shephard, seated at a table, with a dog by his side; first state, realised at Durrant's sale, 1856, 14l., prefixed to ‘Comedies and Tragedies written by T.K.,’ London, 1664, fol.; the original painting is in the possession of Sir J. Buller-East. Sir William Paston, Marshall's sale, 36l. 10s.; Lady Paston, Marshall's sale, 34l.; Margaret Smith, widow of Thomas Cary, and wife of Sir Edward Herbert, after Vandyck, Sykes's sale, 54l. 12s. Faithorne engraved two large maps, viz. ‘An exact Delineation of the Cities of London and Westminster and the Suburbs thereof, together with ye Burrough of Southwark and all ye thoroughfares, highwaies, streetes, lanes, and common allies with in ye same composed by a Scale and ichnographically described by Richard Newcourt of Somerton, in the Countie of Somersett, gentleman.’ This map, of which the only impression known is preserved in the department of prints, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, is composed of twelve sheets, which, when placed together, measure 72 inches by 39 inches. Facsimiles were issued in May 1857 by Messrs. Evans; in 1878 by Mr. Stanford, engraved by George Jarman; and in 1905 by the London Topogr. Soc. in eight folio sheets. The other map, of Virginia and Maryland, four sheets, when put together measures 36 inches by 31 inches. In the centre, above, are the royal arms of Great Britain; towards the right, below, is a portrait on a pedestal of Augustine Hermann, who was appointed by the Dutch in 1659 ambassador to Maryland. This map, said to be unique, is preserved in the Grenville Library, British Museum. Among the known original drawings and paintings by Faithorne are a portrait of Barbara Villiers, full length, after Sir Peter Lely, the property of the Duke of Buccleuch; exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879. Portrait of Sir Martin Bowes, a munificent benefactor of the Goldsmiths' Company (Faithorne was a member of this body and served the office of warden, on which occasion he presented the portrait of Bowes); canvas, 48 inches by 38 inches, exhibited at the South Kensington Museum in 1866. Portrait of Sir Orlando Bridgeman (whose portrait Faithorne engraved) in the British Museum; portrait of the artist himself in the collection of Mr. Alfred Morrison; portrait of Francis Glisson when an old man, in the censor's room, Royal College of Physicians, London; portrait of Sir Edmund King, M.D., in water-colour, British Museum; portrait of John Milton, bust, with long flowing hair, white collar, and dark dress; canvas, 23 inches by 18 inches, exhibited at the South Kensington Museum in 1860, the property of Mr. Edmund F. Moore. Another portrait of the poet, in crayons, the property of Mr. William Baker of Bayfordbury Park, Hertford; portrait of John Ray, naturalist, in crayons, British Museum. Faithorne's portrait, painted by Robert Walker, half-length, holding in his right hand an impression of the portrait of ‘Sir Thomas Fairfax,’ now in the National Portrait Gallery. The following portraits designed by Faithorne have been engraved: Dr. Charles Leigh, engraved by J. Savage; John Seddon, by John Sturt; and John Smith, by Vanderbanc. Faithorne published ‘The Art of Graveing and Etching, wherein is exprest the true way of graveing in copper. Allso the manner and method of … Callot and Mr. Bosse in their severall ways of etching,’ 10 plates, London, 1662, 8vo, dedicated to his master, Sir Robert Peake.

[A Descriptive Catalogue of the Engraved Works of William Faithorne by Louis Fagan, London, 1888, 8vo; Walpole's Anecdotes, iii. 909; Bagford Papers, Harl. MS. 5910, iv. 157, British Museum.]

L. F.