Humphrys, William (DNB00)

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HUMPHRYS, WILLIAM (1794–1865), engraver, born at Dublin in 1794, went early to America, and learnt engraving from George Murray, senior member of a well-known bank-note engraving firm at Philadelphia, and a pupil of Anker Smith [q.v.] In America Humphrys engraved small plates for annuals and for illustrated editions of the works of Bryant, Longfellow, and other poets, besides vignettes and details for bank-notes; his great skill in this last work forming an effective safeguard against forgery. In 1822 he returned to England, where he was afterwards employed to engrave the well-known head of the queen on the postage stamps. He also engraved the head of Washington for the postage stamps of the United States. In England small plates for the annuals, such as 'The Bijou,' 'Forget-Me-Not,' and others, largely occupied him. But his larger plates included 'Sancho and the Duchess,' after C. R. Leslie, R.A.; 'Spanish Peasant Boy,' after Murillo; `The Coquette,' after Sir Joshua Reynolds; 'Master Lambton,' after Sir Thomas Lawrence; and 'George Washington,' after C. G. Stuart. He engraved (for 40l.) Stothard's 'Nun,' for Rogers's 'Italy' '1830), his only contribution to the volume, Humphrys was again in America between 1843 and 1845. At the invitation of his friend Alfred Novello he went to Villa Novello, near Genoa, late in 1864, in the hope of recovering from a stroke of paralysis, but he died there, 21 Jan. 1865. Humphrys was an engraver of great technical skill.

[Art Journal, 1865, p. 140; W. S. Baker's American Engravers and their Works; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Clayden's Rogers and his Contemporaries, ii. 3.]

L. C.