Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lewis, Frederick Christian

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LEWIS, FREDERICK CHRISTIAN (1779–1856), engraver and landscape-painter, brother of Charles Lewis [q. v.] the bookbinder, and George Robert Lewis [q. v.], was born in London on 14 March 1779. He studied under J. C. Stadler, an eminent aquatint engraver, and in the schools of the Royal Academy. Early in life he made the acquaintance of Girtin, and he aquatinted the greater part of that artist's etchings of Paris, published in 1803. Showing great skill and taste in engraving facsimiles of drawings, he was employed by John Chamberlaine [q. v.] to execute the plates after Claude, Raphael, and Poussin for the second issue of his ‘Original Designs of the most Celebrated Masters in the Royal Collection,’ which appeared in 1812. In 1807 Turner, who was then projecting his ‘Liber Studiorum,’ engaged Lewis to engrave that work in aquatint, but in consequence of a disagreement on the question of remuneration, he produced only a single plate, ‘The Bridge and Goats,’ the remainder being entrusted to mezzotint-engravers; Lewis's plate is No. 43 in the series. Between 1808 and 1812 Lewis was chiefly occupied upon Ottley's well-known ‘Italian School of Design,’ for which he executed some fine transcripts of drawings by the great masters, especially Raphael and Michel Angelo; and among many other subsequent works of a similar character were ‘Il Mondo Rovesciato,’ twenty-two plates after G. Salviati, 1822; ‘Works of Mercy,’ eight plates after Flaxman; the Campanile of St. Mark's, Venice, after Canaletti; a figure of Eve, after Parmigiano; ten views of Sezincot House, Gloucestershire, after John Martin; ‘Imitations of Drawings by Claude Lorraine in the British Museum,’ one hundred plates issued in 1837 and 1840; and a series of portraits of members of Grillion's Club, after J. Slater and G. Richmond. Admiration of the ability displayed in the Ottley plates led Sir Thomas Lawrence to entrust to Lewis the engraving of his crayon portraits, and during the latter years of that painter's life Lewis reproduced under his immediate supervision many of his finest drawings; a selection from these was published in 1840. Lewis held the appointment of engraver of drawings to Princess Charlotte, Prince Leopold, George IV, William IV, and Queen Victoria. He was extremely industrious, and his portraits and other subjects from pictures by Landseer, Winterhalter, Chalon, Bonington, Danby, and others are very numerous. Throughout his life he devoted a portion of his time to landscape-painting, working both in oils and water-colours, and contributing largely to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy, the British Institution, and the Old Water-colour Society. His early studies were made at Enfield, where he resided for some years, but later the scenery of Devonshire chiefly occupied his pencil; and during his frequent visits to that county he enjoyed the friendship and patronage of the Duke of Bedford, Lord Mount-Edgcumbe, Sir T. D. Acland, Mr. C. B. Calmady, and other local magnates. It was at his suggestion that Mr. Calmady commissioned Lawrence to paint the celebrated picture of his two children. During the latter part of his life Lewis resided in Charlotte Street, Portland Place, and he died of apoplexy at Bull's Cross, Enfield, on 18 Dec. 1856. He published ‘Scenery of the River Dart,’ thirty-five aquatints, dedicated to the king, 1821; ‘Scenery of the Rivers Tamar and Tavy,’ forty-seven plates, dedicated to the Duke of Bedford, 1823; ‘Scenery of the River Exe,’ thirty views, dedicated to Sir T. D. Acland, 1827; ‘Scenery of the Devonshire Rivers,’ a series of etchings from his own pictures in various collections, 1841–3; ‘Scenery of the Rivers of England and Wales,’ twenty-four etchings, 1845–7; and ‘Recollections of Eminent Masters,’ twenty small mezzotints. Five of Lewis's water-colour views are in the South Kensington Museum, and two views of Endsleigh, in oils, at Woburn Abbey. He left two daughters and three sons, who all gained distinction as artists. The elder sons, John Frederick and Charles George, are separately noticed.

The third son, Frederick Christian Lewis (1813–1875), studied under Sir Thomas Lawrence, and at the age of twenty-one went to India, where he resided for some years, and painted for the native princes many large pictures of durbars and other state ceremonials; some of these were engraved by his father and published in England. After leaving India Lewis travelled largely, collecting materials for an ethnographical work, which, in consequence of subsequent ill-health and other difficulties, was never published. He died suddenly at Genoa, 26 May 1875, aged 62. Lewis's portrait of Keith Milnes was engraved as a private plate by his father.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers (Armstrong); Rawlinson's Cat. of Turner's Liber Studiorum, 1878; Williams's Life of Sir T. Lawrence, ii. 350; Gent. Mag. 1857, i. 251; Art Journal, 1857 and 1875, p. 279; Universal Cat. of Books on Art.]

F. M. O'D.