Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Le Keux, John

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LE KEUX, JOHN (1783–1846), engraver, born in Sun Street, Bishopsgate, on 4 June 1783, and baptised at St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, in September of that year, was son of Peter Le Keux by Anne Dyer, his wife. His father, a wholesale pewter manufacturer in Bishopsgate, was the representative of a large and flourishing Huguenot family. Le Keux was apprenticed to his father, but, acquiring a taste for engraving from an experimental practice on pewter, he turned his attention to copperplate engraving. In consequence of this he was transferred by his father for the remaining years of his apprenticeship to James Basire the first [q. v.], the engraver, to whom his brother Henry had been already apprenticed. Under Basire Le Keux acquired that peculiar skill in architectural engraving which characterised his work. He developed a very fine yet free style in the line manner, and may be considered, perhaps, the best engraver of his day in the somewhat mechanical style then in vogue. His engravings contributed very largely to the success of the architectural publications of John Britton [q. v.], A. W. Pugin [q. v.], J. P. Neale [q. v.], and similar works. He engraved the plates to Ingram's ‘Memorials of Oxford,’ and published himself two volumes of engravings, ‘Memorials of Cambridge,’ with text by Thomas Wright and Harry Longueville Jones [q. v.]; some of these plates were subsequently used for Cooper's ‘Memorials of Cambridge.’ He engraved, after J. M. W. Turner, R.A., ‘Rome from the Farnese Gardens’ for Hakewill's ‘Italy,’ and ‘St. Agatha's Abbey, Easby,’ for Whitaker's ‘History of Richmondshire.’ Le Keux's engravings did much to disseminate a taste for the revival of Gothic architecture. Le Keux married, on 27 Sept. 1809, at St. Mary's, Lambeth, Sarah Sophia (1836–1871), daughter of John Lingard, by whom he was father of John Henry Le Keux (b. 1813), who inherited his father's skill in engraving. Le Keux died on 2 April 1846, and was buried in Bunhill Fields cemetery.

Le Keux, Henry (1787–1868), engraver, younger brother of the above, was born on 13 June 1787, and baptised at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. He was apprenticed by his father to James Basire, and worked for Basire on the ‘Oxford Almanacs’ and the plates for the Society of Antiquaries. He was associated with his brother in some of his architectural works, and also engraved for the fashionable ‘annuals’ between 1820 and 1840. He engraved two plates, after J. M. W. Turner, R.A., for Rogers's ‘Italy,’ and was associated with Edward Blore [q. v.] in producing the latter's ‘Monumental Remains.’ Le Keux was a member of the Associated Society of Engravers, and engraved for them some pictures by Claude and Canaletto in the National Gallery, one of his latest works being the former's ‘Embarkation of St. Ursula.’ About 1838 he abandoned engraving and joined in starting a crape manufactory at Bocking in Essex. He died there on 3 Oct. 1868, and was buried at Halstead, Essex. Unlike his contemporaries, Le Keux executed his engravings entirely himself. He did not attain quite the same proficiency as his brother.

[Gent. Mag. 1846, i. 647; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Dodd's manuscript History of English Engravers (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 33402); William Clark's Archit. Hist. of the Univ. of Cambridge; information from Henry Wagner, esq., F.S.A.]

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