Finden, William (DNB00)

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FINDEN, WILLIAM (1787–1862), engraver, was apprenticed to James Mitan, an engraver, one of the articles of his apprenticeship being that he was never to be a candidate for academy honours; it is probable, however, that he derived much instruction from his careful study of the works of James Heath (1766-1834) [q. v.] He worked chiefly in conjunction with his younger brother and fellow-pupil, Edward Finden [q. v.], and was at first employed in his master's line of engraving, illustrating the books published by Sharpe, Sutton, and others, engraving Smirke's drawings for 'Don Quixote.' This rather cramped style of book illustration the Findens developed to a very great extent. They established a large school of pupils, who worked under their direction, and executed most of the works which bear the Findens' name, the Findens confining themselves principally to supervision, and to giving the few touches necessary to produce the elaborate finish and precision in which their productions excelled. This mechanical elaboration perhaps renders their works cold, and prevents their great excellency from being duly appreciated. Among the earlier works produced by William Finden were the illustrations to Sir Henry Ellis's edition of Dugdale's 'History of St. Paul's,' 1818, Dibdin's 'Ædes Althorpianæ,' 1822, &c. The brothers were both employed in engraving the Elgin marbles for the British Museum, and also on the illustrations for 'The Arctic Voyages' published by Murray; Brockedon's 'Passes of the Alps,' 1829; Campbell's 'Poetical Works,' 1828; and Lodge's ' Portraits,' 1821-34. They published on their own account and at their own cost in 1833 the illustrations to Moore's 'Life and Works of Lord Byron.' This last-named work created a great sensation. It was followed by other works of a popular nature, 'The Gallery of the Graces,' from pictures by Chalon, Landseer, and others, 1832-4; 'Landscape Illustrations of the Bible,' after Turner, Callcott, Stanfield, and others, 1834-6; 'Byron Beauties,' 1834; 'Landscape Illustrations to the Life and Poetical Works of George Crabbe,' 1834; 'Portraits of the Female Aristocracy of the Court of Queen Victoria,' after Chalon, Hayter, and others, 1838-9; 'Tableaux of National Character, Beauty, and Costume,' first edited by Mrs. S. C. Hall, then by Mary Russell Mitford (among the contributors of poetry was Elizabeth Barrett, afterwards Mrs. Browning [q. v.]), &c. The large profits which the brothers Finden gained from these works were risked and finally dissipated in an ambitious production, 'The Royal Gallery of British Art,' 1838, &c.; this publication, though admirably planned and beautifully executed, was unsuited to a public whose taste for annuals and illustrations of poetry had been surfeited to excess. It was the deathblow to the fortunes of the two Findens. William Finden died a widower after a short illness on 20 Sept. 1852, in his sixty-fifth year, and was buried in Highgate cemetery; one of his last acts was to sign a petition to the queen for the recognition of the claims of engravers to the full honours of the Royal Academy. Besides the publications above mentioned and numerous other illustrative works he produced some important single works, notably the full-length portrait of George IV, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence for the Marchioness of Conyngham (a collection of progressive proofs of this engraving is in the print room at the British Museum); 'Sheep Washing' and 'The Village Festival,' by Sir David Wilkie (in the National Gallery); 'The Highlander's Return,' 'The Highlander's Home,' and 'The Naughty Boy,' after Sir Edwin Landseer; and 'The Crucifixion,' after W. Hilton, Finden's last work, which was purchased by the Art Union for 1,470'l.

[For authorities see under Finden, Edward Francis.]

L. C.