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The Scottish Nation

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 Divines.
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.

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