William Egley

(1798 - 19 March 1870)

Born in Doncaster; devoted to mercantile pursuits, he studied art in his moments of leisure, and was entirely self-taught. He finally became a successful and fashionable portrait-painter, exhibiting first at the Royal Academy in 1824, and regularly until his death. Among his sitters have been Yates the actor, J. H. Foley, R.A., the children of Don Carlos of Spain, and many members of distinguished families of England. His works are chiefly in miniature, and he was particularly happy in the portrayal of children.

[Artists of the Nineteenth Century & their Work; Biographical Sketches. By Clara Erskine Clement & Laurence Hutton, 1879.] div

A miniature painter, was born at Doncaster in 1798. His first employment was in a publisher's office in London, in the course of which occupation he found time to practise painting, of which he had been fond from an early age. After a short time he determined to follow portrait painting as a profession, and in 1824 two of his pictures were exhibited at the Royal Academy, one of them being the portrait of Yates, the actor. From this time he was a very constant exhibitor, painting a great many portraits of members of well-known English families, besides several foreigners of distinction. One of his latest works was a portrait of Foley, the sculptor, which was exhibited at the Royal Acadcniy in 1868. His death occurred in London in 1870. His miniatures were very carefully finished and pure in colour; and he was especially respectful in his treatment of children.

[Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers, 1903.]


EGLEY, WILLIAM (1798–1870), miniature painter, was born at Doncaster in 1798. Shortly after the boy's birth his father removed to Nottingham, and became confidential agent to the Walkers of Eastwood. The gift of a box of colours which William received in early youth strengthened his desire to be a painter. But the father destined both him and his brother Thomas for the trade of bookselling. They were received into the house of Darton, the publisher, Holborn Hill, London; but while Thomas pursued this calling to the end of his life, William, by chance visits to the exhibitions in Somerset House, cultivated and stimulated his love of painting. Without any professional teaching he succeeded in finishing two pictures, the portraits of Colonel Ogleby and of Yates, the actor, which were received and exhibited by the Royal Academy in 1824. From that time until the year before his death he was a constant exhibitor, sending in all to the Royal Academy 160 miniatures, to the British Institution two pictures, and to the Suffolk Street Gallery six. He was very successful in portraying children, with whom his genial temper made him a great favourite. He died in London, aged 72. He was twice happily married, and by his first wife left a son, William Maw Egley, who is a painter of historical subjects and a regular exhibitor.

[[Art Journal, 1870; Graves's Dict. of Artists; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 17, Egley, William, by Robert Harrison Eglisham.] div