MacArdell, James (DNB00)

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MACARDELL, JAMES (1729?–1766), mezzotint-engraver, was born in Cow Lane (aferwards Greek Street), Dublin, about 1729. He learnt mezzotint-engraving John Brooks [q. v.], and his earliest work appears to be a head of Archbishop Boulter in an engraving, altered from one by Brooks of Bishop Robert Howard. When Brooks removed to London about 1746, he was followed or accompanied by MacArdell and others of his pupils. A head of Dr. Birch is stated to have been done by MacArdell in London. A portrait of Bishop Secker, engraved by MacArdell, was published in London in 1767, and also a humorous plate, entitled ‘Teague's Ramble.’ In 1748 he engraved a portrait of John Cartwright, after S. Elmer, and a small portrait of Charles Bancks, a Swedish painter, for the Chevalier Descazeaux, an eccentric person confined in the Fleet prison, of whose portrait MacArdell made two humorous etchings, his only known work in any other manner than mezzotint. In 1749 he engraved the picture of Lady Boyd, after Ramsay, and the well-known portrait by Hogarth of Thomas Coram in 1750, the Duke of Dorset, after Kneller, and ‘The Sons of the Duke of Buckingham,’ after Vandyck. These works brought MacArdell into the front rank of engravers, and he opened a print shop at the Golden Head in Covent Garden, where in 1753 he published six views of Dublin. In 1754 he engraved his first plates after Sir Joshua Reynolds, who himself acknowledged at a subsequent date the great debt he was under to MacArdell: these plates were the Earl and Countess of Kildare, companion plates, published in Dublin by Michael Ford [q. v.], and Lady Charlotte Fitzwilliam, published by Reynolds himself. Subsequently MacArdell engraved thirty-four more portraits by Reynolds and twenty-five by Hudson. Among the former were portraits of the Rev. John Reynolds, Lady Elizabeth Montagu, Anne Day (afterwards Lady Fenhoulet), Miss Horneck, Admiral Boscawen, John, earl of Rothes, Lady Anne Dawson, Horace Walpole and others; and among the latter, Mary Panton, duchess of Ancaster, Martin Folkes, and the Earl and Countess of Egmont. He engraved fine portraits of George III, Queen Charlotte, and one of George II on horseback. After Rubens MacArdell engraved ‘The Family of Sir Balthasar Gerbier,’ and ‘Rubens with his Wife and Child,’ from the picture formerly at Blenheim; after Vandyck, ‘Time clipping the Wings of Cupid,’ ‘The Finding of Moses,’ and Lord John and Lord Bernard Stuart; after Rembrandt, ‘The Mathematician,’ ‘Tobit and the Angel,’ ‘A Dutch Interior’ (from the drawing formerly in Mr. Seymour Haden's collection), and ‘The Tribute Money.’ MacArdell engraved numerous other portraits and subject pictures. Some were from his own drawings, such as those of Charles Blakes, an actor, as ‘M. le Medecin,’ and Garrick as ‘Peter Puff.’ He drew a fine portrait of himself, which was engraved in mezzotint by R. Earlom. MacArdell died on 2 June 1765, in his fifty-seventh year, and was buried in the churchyard at Hampstead, where a stone bears an inscription to his memory. He left several plates unfinished. He was very popular among his fellow-engravers, and brought the art of mezzotint-engraving to great perfection. A special exhibition of his engravings was held at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in London in 1886.

[Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits; Dublin Univ. Rev. April 1886; Gent. Mag. 1786, lvi. 420; Pasquin's Artists of Ireland; Memoir prefixed to Cat. of Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition.]

L. C.