Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sherlock, William (fl.1759-1806)

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SHERLOCK, WILLIAM (fl. 1759–1806), portrait-painter and engraver, is said to have been the son of a prize-fighter, and to have been born at Dublin. In 1759 he was a student in the St. Martin's Lane academy in London, and in that year obtained a premium from the Society of Arts. He at first studied engraving, and was a pupil of J. P. Le Bas at Paris. There he engraved a large plate of ‘The Grange,’ after J. Pillement, published in 1761; he also engraved the portrait heads for Smollett's ‘History of England.’ Subsequently Sherlock took to painting portraits on a small scale, both in oil and watercolours, and miniatures. He was a fellow of the Incorporated Society of Artists, and their director in 1774, exhibiting with them from 1764 to 1777. From 1802 to 1806 he exhibited small portraits at the Royal Academy. He also practised as a picture-cleaner, and was a skilled copyist.

His son, William P. Sherlock (fl. 1800–1820), also practised as an artist. From 1801 to 1810 he exhibited at the Royal Academy, sending a few portraits, but principally watercolour landscapes in the style of Richard Wilson, to whom his works have sometimes been attributed. He drew most of the illustrations to Dickinson's ‘Antiquities of Nottinghamshire,’ 1801–6, and the portrait of the author prefixed to that work was engraved from a miniature by him. In 1811 and the following years he published a series of soft ground-etchings from his own watercolour drawings, and those of David Cox, S. Prout, T. Girtin, and other leading watercolour artists of the day. A series of drawings in watercolour by W. P. Sherlock, representing views in the immediate neighbourhood of London, is preserved in the print-room at the British Museum. They are not only of great historical interest, but also show him to have been an artist of remarkable merit.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1893; Pye's Patronage of British Art.]

L. C.