Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Eddis, Eden Upton

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EDDIS, EDEN UPTON (1812–1901), portrait-painter, was the eldest son of Eden Eddis, a clerk in Somerset House, by his wife Clementia Parker. His grandfather, William Eddis, was secretary to Sir Robert Eden, governor of Maryland. Born on 9 May 1812, in London, he showed as a boy a talent for drawing, and became a pupil in the art school of Henry Sass. In 1828 he entered the painting school of the Royal Academy, and in 1837 won the silver medal. He first exhibited at the Academy in 1834, and then annually from 1837 to 1881. He also exhibited occasionally at the British Institution and at Suffolk Street.

While a young man, Eddis travelled and sketched on the continent with his friend James Holland [q. v.]. In 1848 he settled in Harley Street, where most of his professional life was passed.

Some portrait-drawings in chalk of members of the Athenæum, made when he was still quite young, were very successful and procured him many commissions. Though he had cherished wider ambitions, he determined to embrace the opportunity thus afforded by portrait-painting, chiefly from a generous desire to help his family. In 1838 he exhibited a portrait of Lord John Beresford, archbishop of Armagh, and in the following year one of Viscount Ebrington, lord- lieutenant of Ireland, together with a sketch of Chantrey, the sculptor. These were the first of a long list of distinguished sitters, men eminent in politics, law, the army, and the church, and women celebrated in the society of the day. The painter's social gifts made him a delightful companion; and many of his sitters became lifelong friends. Among the closest and most intimate of his friends were Samuel Jones Loyd, Lord Overstone [q. v.], and his family. Eddis exhibited a portrait of Lord Overstone in 1851; and thirteen of his pictures (not all portraits) are in the collection of Lady Wantage, Lord Overstone's daughter. Between 1840 and 1850 he painted, in addition to portraits, 'Naomi,' other biblical subjects, and two pictures illustrating a poem of Keble's. After 1860 the portraits were increasingly varied by subjects of rustic genre and pictures of children. Several of these were engraved by Every, Joubert, and others, and had great popularity as prints. Macaulay (1850), Archbishop Sumner (1851), Bishop Blomfield (1851), George Dallas, the American Minister (1857), Sir Erasmus Wilson (1859), Lord Coleridge (1878), and Sydney Smith were among those who sat to Eddis. His portrait of Theodore Hook is in the National Portrait Gallery. A series of his portrait- drawings in chalk was lithographed by Gauci.

In 1883 Eddis's health threatened to give way; he determined to exhibit no more after that year, and retired to Shalford, near Guildford. The trouble passed, and he lived, hale and strong, till 1901, continuing to paint for his own pleasure portraits of his friends and delicate studies of flowers. His personality and conversation charmed all who knew him, and to the last he was the centre of a large and devoted circle, and an especial favourite with the young. He died at Shalford on 7 April 1901, and is buried there. He married Elizabeth Brown, who predeceased him, and had one son and one daughter.

[Graves's Royal Academy Exhibitors, 1905-1906; private information.]

L. B.