BERANGER, GABRIEL (d. 1817), artist, was born in Rotterdam about 1729, and was descended from one of the Huguenots who had settled in Holland. In 1760, when he was about twenty-one years of age, he came to Ireland to join some of his relatives who had settled there, and after some time opened a print shop and artist's warehouse at 5 South Great George's Street, Dublin, where for many years he followed the profession of an artist. At that time many of the leading men of Dublin took great interest in Irish history and antiquities. Foremost among these were General Vallancey and Colonel Burton Conyngham, who became acquainted with Beranger and were struck by his skill as an artist, his intellectual tastes, and his lively social disposition. They resolved to employ him in sketching antiquities, and as his business in George's Street was not successful, they had him appointed to a government situation in the Dublin exchequer office.
He was an indefatigable draughtsman, and, whether working for himself or for others, seems never to have passed an object of antiquarian interest without sketching it. He first drew all the antiquities of Dublin and its neighbourhood, and afterwards, accompanied by a French artist named Bigari, made several sketching tours through the counties of Leinster, Connaught, and Ulster. He was not only a good artist, but a close observer of the people among whom he travelled, and many of his drawings are accompanied by vivid descriptions of the scenery and antiquities of the places he visited, and racy notion's of his intercourse with the gentry and of the customs and manners of the peasantry. He transferred his drawings and descriptions to several manuscript volumes intended for publication, most of which are now preserved in Dublin, in the Royal Irish Academy, and elsewhere. The drawings are extremely valuable, as they preserve faithfully the appearance of ancient buildings and stone monuments as they existed a century ago, many of which are now greatly dilapidated or wholly destroyed. Dr. Petrie made much use of these drawings to illustrate his book on the round towers of Ireland.
In later life Beranger was made independent by a bequest from his brother-in-law. He died in 1817 at the age of eighty-eight, and was interred in the French burial-ground in Dublin.
[Willie's Memoir of Beranger; Petrie's Round Towers. 248.]
BERCHET, PETER (1659–1720), painter, was born in France in 1659. He studied under Charles de Lafosse, and at the age of eighteen obtained employment in the royal palaces. He came to England in 1681 to work under Rambour, a French painter of architecture, but after a brief stay returned to France. On paying a second visit to this country he received a commission from King William III to assist in the decoration of his new palace at Loo in Holland, and laboured there for fifteen months. On his return he finally settled in England, where he found extensive occupation in the houses of the nobility. He painted the staircase of the Duke of Schomberg's house in Pall Mall, and the picture of the Ascension on the ceiling of the chapel of Trinity College, Oxford. During the latter part of his life, in consequence of ill-health, he confined himself to small easel pictures, which were chiefly of a mythological character. He died in Marylebone, where he had long resided, on 1 Jan. 1720. There are engravings from Berchet's pictures by John Smith, Simon, and Vertue, and he also etched a few plates from his own designs, amongst them 'St. Cecilia in the clouds playing the violin,' a ticket for a concert, 1696.
[Walpole's Antecdotes of Painting (Wornum), p. 604; Strutt's Biog. Dict. of Engravers (1785); Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists (1878); MS. notes in British Museum.]
BERCHTHUN, Saint (d. 733), abbot of Beverley, was originally a deacon under John, bishop of Hexham, now known as St. John of Beverley. When John was translated from Hexham to York, Berchthun appears to have accompanied him. One of John's first acts as archbishop was to found a monastery at Beverley, then called In Derawuda, and in the year 700 he appointed Berchthun its first abbot. In 717 the archbishop resigned his see, and at the invitation of Berchthun took up his residence at Beverley, where he died in 721. It was from Berchthun that Bæda obtained much of the information respecting the life and miracles of the sainted archbishop which is contained in his history. The year of Berchthun's death is variously given as 733 and 740, but the former date appears to be the best attested. Although no formal record of his canonisation seems to exist, the title of saint is given to him by early writers, and his name appears in the calendar under 15 May, the day of his death. In 1088 his remains were disinterred, and placed beside those of John in the minster church at Beverley. His name, which in Anglo-Saxon orthography would be written indifferently Beorhthun or Brihthun, is variously latinised as Berchthunus, Bercthunus, Bertunus, Brythunus, and Britunus.