Faber, John (1695?-1756) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

FABER, JOHN, the younger (1695?–1756), devoted himself entirely to mezzotint engraving, which he learnt from his father, and attained great excellence in that art, producing a vast number of works. He resided with his father up to the time of the latter's death, and during this period always signed his engravings John Faber, junior. He was for some time a student in Vanderbank's academy in St. Martin's Lane. Among his early works were portraits of Charles I (1717), Charles XII of Sweden (1718), Sir George Byng (1718), Eustace Budgell (1720), and others. A portrait of Thomas, duke of Newcastle, an early work, bears in a second state of the plate the address of John Smith [q. v.], the other great exponent of the art of mezzotint engraving at this period. It is possible that Faber may have also worked under him. To Faber posterity owes the preservation of the school of portraiture which was in vogue between the days of Sir Godfrey Kneller (whose school and style are preserved in Smith's engravings) and those of Reynolds and Gainsborough. Among his numerous portraits, more than four hundred of which have come down to us, may be especially noted the fine whole-length of Miss Jane Collier, and that of Father Couplet (from a picture by Kneller at Windsor); also the portraits of Charles II in his robes of state (after Lely), Ignatius Loyola (after Titian), Carreras (after Kneller), and the six aldermen known as ‘Benn's Club’ (after Hudson). He published some sets of engravings, among the best known being ‘The Beauties of Hampton Court,’ ‘The Five Philosophers of England,’ and ‘The Members of the Kit-Cat Club.’ This club [for which see Cat, Christopher] at one time held its meetings in Fountain Court, Strand, in which Faber also resided; this may have led to his being engaged by Tonson to engrave the series of portraits painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller. Faber was engaged on the engravings from 1731 to 1735, and in the latter year they were published by him and Tonson jointly; the plates subsequently passed into the hands of the Boydells, and were sold at the Boydell sale in 1818. During the latter part of his life Faber resided at the Golden Head in Bloomsbury Square, where he died of the gout on 2 May 1756. From the inscription on a masonic portrait of Frederick, prince of Wales, it appears that Faber was a freemason himself. He did not confine his engravings to portraiture, but occasionally produced other subjects, such as ‘The Taking of Namur’ (after Wyck), ‘St. Peter’ (after Vandyck), ‘Salvator Mundi’ (after R. Browne), and various domestic subjects after Philip Mercier. His engravings show a steady progress and improvement throughout his career. According to Walpole, his widow, of whom there is an engraving by Faber from a portrait by Hudson, remarried a lawyer of the name of Smith.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits; Dodd's manuscript Hist. of English Engravers; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; manuscript notes in Anderdon's Collectanea Biographica (print room, British Museum).]

L. C.