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The Scottish Nation

TASSIE, JAMES, a celebrated modeler, was born of obscure parents in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, at what particular period is not known, and began life in the humble condition of a country stone-mason. On a visit to Glasgow during the fair, he obtained a view of the collection of paintings formed by the brothers Foulis, the eminent printers. With the design of acquiring a knowledge of drawing, he soon after removed to Glasgow, where he constantly attended the infant academy, as often as he could spare time from his occupation of stone-cutting, by which he maintained himself. Repairing afterwards to Dublin in search of employment, he became known to Dr. Quin, a physician, who amused his leisure by attempting to imitate precious stones with coloured pastes, and to take off impressions of the antique sculptured gems, an art practiced in France and Italy with great secrecy. The Doctor, finding that Tassie possessed all the necessary qualifications, took him as his assistant, and when they had succeeded in their experiments, he generously enabled him to proceed to London, and try the art, as a profession, for his own benefit. Tassie, accordingly, went to London in 1766, where, from his excessive modesty, he long struggled with difficulties, which would have discouraged most people in his circumstances. These, however, with patience and perseverance, he ultimately surmounted, and, emerging from obscurity, acquired both fortune and reputation. His name at length became so much respected, that the first cabinets in Europe were open to his use. A catalogue of his gems, ancient and modern, appeared in 1775, in 8vo; but so great was his progress in the art, that an enlarged edition was published in 1791, in two volumes 4to. Many of his pastes were sold on the Continent for real gems; and several years before his death he executed a commission for the empress of Russia, consisting of 15,000 engravings, which he afterwards increased to 20,000. He likewise practiced modeling portraits in wax, which he moulded and cast in paste. He died in 1799.

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