Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists - Vol. 2

By Horace Walpole | Go to book overview

into debt and was arrested. He sued in vain to the king for delivery; his countrymen freed him by a contribution. Sir William Soames, being sent ambassador to Constantinople by James II., Vosterman accompanied him, intending to paint the delights of that situation; but Sir William dying on the road, it is not certain what became of the painter. It is said that before his departure from England he had been invited to Poland by his old patron the Marquis de Bethune, and probably went thither on the death of the ambassador. 1


WILLIAM WISSING,

(1656—1687,)

was born at Amsterdam, and bred under Dodaens, an historic painter of the Hague, from whence Wissing passed into France, contracted the furbelowed style of that country and age, and came into England, where at least he learned it in its perfection from Sir Peter Lely, for whom he worked, and after whose death he grew into fashion. He drew all the royal family, and particularly the Duke of Monmouth, several times, which ingratiated him with the king and the ladies. Sir Godfrey Kneller, then the rising genius, was a formidable rival, but death put an end to the contest in the thirty-first year of Wissing's age, who deceased at Burleigh, the Lord Exeter's, in 1687. 2 He was buried at the expense

____________________
in silence ; but retained the picture. Still buoyed up with the confidence of a speedy remuneration, he became overwhelmed with debt, and was thrown into prison by his English creditors ; where his royal patron would have left him, had he not been liberated by the charity of his brother painters, then in London.—D.
1
Francisco Milé, a landscape-painter of Antwerp, was here towards the end of Charles's reign, but probably stayed not long.—Abrégé, &c. vol. ii. p. 214.

Descamps observes of him, (tom. iii. p. 169,) "Il passa par la Hollande à l'Angleterre, on ne pût l'arrêter nulle part." At Castle Donnington is " Moses found," by Mile.—D.

2
There is something mysterious in the assertion of Descamps, at the beginning of his Life of Wissing, "that he owed his good fortune to his talents, and his death to envy;" and afterwards, that it was suspected that he was poisoned, through the envy of his rivals, "du moins, les Anglois l'assurent." This must have been a calumny. In his epitaph, he is said to have died "inter florem et robur juventæ vix annum 32m. ingressus." Graham gives a sketch of the freedom of the times. Mr. Wissing's good manners and complaisance recommended him to most people's esteem. In drawing his portraits, especially those of the fair sex, he always took the beautiful likeness; and when any lady came to sit to him, whose complexion was any ways pale, he would commonly take her by the hand, and dance her about the room, till she became warmer; by which means he heightened her natural beauty, and made her fit to be represented by his hand, p. 435—D.

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