SANDERS, ROBERT, a
literary compiler, was born in Scotland in 1727. He was by trade a
painter, which calling he relinquished for that of a writer for the
press. Having traveled over a great part of the country, he published,
under the name of Spencer, a folio work, entitled ‘The Complete English
Traveller,’ which passed through many editions. In 1764 he produced, in
six volumes, 8vo, the far-famed ‘Newgate Calendar.’ He was at one time
employed as an amanuensis by Lord Lyttleton, and assisted his lordship
in preparing for publication his ‘History of Henry II.’ He was engaged
on a treatise on General Chronology when he died of an asthma in March
1783. His works are:
The Complete English Traveller. Fol.
The Newgate Calendar; or Memoirs of those unfortunate Culprits who fall
a sacrifice to the injured Laws of their Country, and thereby make their
exit at Tybourne. Lond. 1764, 6 vols. 8vo.
Gaffar Greybeard. 4 vols. 12mo. A Satire upon several dissenting
Roman History, written in a series of Letters from a Nobleman to his
Son. 2 vols. 12mo.
He was also the compiler of Notes on the Bible, published under the name
of Dr. Henry Southwell.
SANDERS, GEORGE, an eminent portrait painter, was born in
Kinghorn, Fifeshire, in April 1774. After receiving an ordinary
education at Kinghorn parish school, he was bound apprentice to Mr.
Smeaton, a coach-painter in Edinburgh, and had for his felloe-workman
the afterwards celebrated Sir William Allan, president of the Royal
Scottish academy. It is interesting to notice two men, who subsequently
attained so high a position in their respective departments of art, thus
associated, at the commencement of their career, in a vocation so
comparatively humble as that of panel painting.
On completing his apprenticeship, Mr.
Sanders commenced to practice in Edinburgh, as a miniature painter, and
met with considerable success. At this period his leisure studies were
devoted to marine subjects, and several beautiful sea-pieces, then
executed by him, are still in fine preservation and repute. About this
time also, he painted a panoramic view of Edinburgh, taken from Leith
Roads, which was publicly exhibited and very much admired. From the high
reputation which his miniatures had attained, he was advised to remove
to London, and devote himself exclusively to that branch of art. By Mr.
Thomas Byrdson, author of a work entitled ‘Distinctions of Rank,’ he was
introduced to several of the Scottish nobility, as an artist of great
promise, and he became, ere long, the first miniature painter of the
day. His miniatures commanded the highest prices, 80 to 100 guineas, and
by competent judges they were regarded as faithful in likeness as they
were exquisite in execution.
About 1811, his name came under the
observation of the royal family, and he was commanded to paint a
portrait of the Princess Charlotte. The great estimation in which this
beautiful picture was held secured for Mr. Sanders the patronage of her
royal highness, and she commissioned him to paint the portraits of
several of her personal friends. Having become afflicted with ophthalmia,
he was obliged to discontinue his labours for a time. The Princess
Charlotte sent frequently to inquire for his health, and when he was
sufficiently restored to be enabled to take carriage exercise, she wrote
to him a kind invitation to pass a few days at Windsor. This note, and
several others from that amiable princess to him, were left in the
possession of one of the artist’s most intimate friends in Leith.
This severe attack of ophthalmia was
speedily followed by others, and their frequency at length obliged Mr.
Sanders to abandon, in a great measure, the miniature branch of the art,
and apply himself to the department of life-like portrait-painting, as
less trying to the eyes. Nor did his reputation suffer from the change.
He became as great in portrait-painting as in miniature, and the circle
of his admirers and patrons was soon largely increased. Amongst these
was Lord Byron, the poet, whose portrait by Sanders, painted in 1807, is
the only one considered worthy of the noble bard.
Mr. Sanders, with all his genius, was of a
proud and very eccentric disposition, and his peculiarities operated
greatly to the prejudice of his popularity. Even at the commencement of
his career in London, he preferred the indulgence of his own whims to
the benefit of being on a good footing with the Royal Academy, and
declined membership with that body, rather than adopt the usual course
for obtaining it. This early display of temper caused a jealousy, if not
dislike, to spring up in the academy against him, and this was so
strongly returned by him that he would not for many years allow any of
his works to be sent to the Exhibition, although his portraits were paid
for by his sitters at prices ranging from one hundred to one hundred and
fifty guineas for half-lengths, two hundred to four hundred for whole
lengths, and eight hundred guineas for groups. A few years before his
death, at the urgent solicitation of the duchess of Gordon, he so far
yielded as to send a portrait of the duke, her husband, and another of a
lady, to the Royal Academy’s exhibition. Although not fully finished
when placed in the rooms, these fine works attracted general admiration.
In middle life, Mr. Sanders became an
elegant scholar, very deeply read in the Greek and Roman classics, and
fluent in several modern languages. He was entirely self-taught, but in
this respect thoroughly educated. He had many steady and intimate
friends, amongst the most distinguished of whom were the dukes of
Marlborough, Gordon, and Rutland; the earl of Wemyss; Sir William
Cumming; Mr. Campbell of Islay; Mr. Watson Taylor; Mr. Tassie; and Mrs.
Langford Brooke; and by all who knew his private worth, those
constitutional peculiarities which had spoiled him for wider popularity
were unnoticed, or kindly overlooked.
For the last twenty years of his life he was
a periodical sufferer from his early complaint, inflammation of the
eyes. Such was the severity of this affliction that nearly six months of
every year of these twenty were passed in pain and helpless inactivity.
He fell, in consequence, into irretrievable arrear with his sitters, to
the great injury of his fame and fortune. It was to the considerate and
affectionate kindness of some of those persons whom we have enumerated,
and also to one particular friend, Mr. Robert Menzies, shipbuilder,
Leith, that his last years were soothed, and his home made comfortable.
Mr. Sanders died at London in March 1846.