EDEN UPTON EDDIS

(9 May 1812 - 7 April 1901)

Eden Upton Eddis, was a portrait painter, a fellow-student and life-long companion of George Richmond, and divided, at one time, the world of fashion with his friend. He was a pupil of Sass, and afterwards at the Royal Academy Schools, and one of the medallists. At one time he was disposed to take up landscape work, but was persuaded to try portraiture, and so quickly obtained a success in that branch of art, that he relinquished all other work in its favour. His cleverest works were portraits of children, but amongst notable men whom he painted were Sydney Smith, Theodore Hook, and Macaulay. He was remarkable also for his pencil portraits, which were of groat refinement and beauty. The last fifteen years of his life were passed at Slialford near Guildford, where he died in 1901 at the age of eighty-nine. He became very deaf as he grew old, and this deafness was one of the reasons for his retirement, but he was very popular as a raconteur down to the end of his life, as he had a wealth of anecdote, and a charming wit at his disposal, and was one of the kindest and most generous of men to children, and was always a great favourite with them.

[Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers, George C. Williamson, Litt.D., 1903.] div

Eden Upton Eddis, portrait-painter, was the eldest son of Eden Eddis, a clerk in Somerset House, by his wife Clementia, née Parker. His grandfather, William Eddis, was secretary to Sir Robert Eden, governor of Maryland. Born in Newington Green, Middlesex, London, he showed as a boy a talent for drawing, and became a pupil in the art school of Henry Sass. In 1828 he entered the painting school of the Royal Academy, and in 1837 won the silver medal. He first exhibited at the Academy in 1834, and then annually from 1837 to 1881. He also exhibited occasionally at the British Institution and at Suffolk Street.

While a young man, Eddis travelled and sketched on the continent with his friend James Holland [q. v.]. In 1848 he settled in Harley Street, where most of his professional life was passed.


Two views of an Artist's Studio, possibly that of Eden Upton Eddis


Some portrait-drawings in chalk of members of the Athenæum, made when he was still quite young, were very successful and procured him many commissions. Though he had cherished wider ambitions, he determined to embrace the opportunity thus afforded by portrait-painting, chiefly from a generous desire to help his family. In 1838 he exhibited a portrait of Lord John Beresford, archbishop of Armagh, and in the following year one of Viscount Ebrington, lord- lieutenant of Ireland, together with a sketch of Chantrey, the sculptor. These were the first of a long list of distinguished sitters, men eminent in politics, law, the army, and the church, and women celebrated in the society of the day. The painter's social gifts made him a delightful companion; and many of his sitters became lifelong friends. Among the closest and most intimate of his friends were Samuel Jones Loyd, Lord Overstone [q. v.], and his family. Eddis exhibited a portrait of Lord Overstone in 1851; and thirteen of his pictures (not all portraits) are in the collection of Lady Wantage, Lord Overstone's daughter. Between 1840 and 1850 he painted, in addition to portraits, 'Naomi,' other biblical subjects, and two pictures illustrating a poem of Keble's. After 1860 the portraits were increasingly varied by subjects of rustic genre and pictures of children. Several of these were engraved by Every, Joubert, and others, and had great popularity as prints. Macaulay (1850), Archbishop Sumner (1851), Bishop Blomfield (1851), George Dallas, the American Minister (1857), Sir Erasmus Wilson (1859), Lord Coleridge (1878), and Sydney Smith were among those who sat to Eddis. His portrait of Theodore Hook is in the National Portrait Gallery. A series of his portrait- drawings in chalk was lithographed by Gauci.

In 1883 Eddis's health threatened to give way; he determined to exhibit no more after that year, and retired to Shalford, near Guildford. The trouble passed, and he lived, hale and strong, till 1901, continuing to paint for his own pleasure portraits of his friends and delicate studies of flowers. His personality and conversation charmed all who knew him, and to the last he was the centre of a large and devoted circle, and an especial favourite with the young. He died at Shalford and is buried there. He married Elizabeth Brown, who predeceased him, and had one son and one daughter.

[Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Sidney Lee, January 1901-December 1911, 1912 supplement; Eddis, Eden Upton by L.B. (Laurence Binyon?) ]
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