John Cox Dillman Engleheart

(1783 - 1862)


Miniature painter, nephew of George Engleheart, (1752-1829), entered George Engleheart's studio when he was but fourteen years of age. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801, and sent in altogether 157 works. His work is clean, meticulous, which earned him some notoriety at the time. He was a man of substantial means, and in his time a very popular painter, but his health broke down when he was forty-four years old, and he had to relinquish the pursuit of his profession. He lived at Tunbridge Wells for some years and died there in 1862.

[Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.), Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), Cambridge University Press.]

John Cox Dillman Engleheart (1783–1862), also practised as a miniature-painter. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801, and continued to do so up to 1828, when, owing to failing health, he retired from his profession. He died in 1862. A collection of the works of both painters is in the possession of J. Gardner Engleheart, C.B., son of the last named; among the miniatures is a portrait of George Engleheart by himself. He copied many of his uncle's miniatures having been his pupil and assistant before working under his own steam from around 1807.

[Dictionary of British Miniature Painters, D. Foskett; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 17, by Lionel Henry Cust.]




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The only pupils of George Engleheart who deserve much attention in these pages are his nephew, John Cox Dillman Engleheart, and his distant connection, Thomas Richmond. The former appears to have gone to his uncle's studio in 1798, when he was but fourteen years of age, and to have been under his care and tuition for a considerable time.

In the list of his works extracted from the very scanty records which remain of his painting-books, is the entry of the "Pictures since I first went to my uncle's in Hertford Street," commencing with the note of his earliest work, copying two heads in Indian ink from plaster, representing Seneca and Sappho, very possibly the creation of his other uncle, Thomas, and also a head from a portrait by Romney.

From this initial entry the list continues of the work done by the nephew down to 1802. It includes the first miniature done by John Engleheart, which he proudly records on September 7, 1799. only a year after he had entered the studio. A 'Mr. Morgan' it was whose portrait was the earliest original work of the young artist, who up to that time had evidently only copied his uncle's works and drawings, which were given him as studies.

The earlier subjects which were set him were pictures by Sir Joshua, and he relates that he copied the 'Weeping Girl', the 'Laughing Girl', 'An Old Head', another 'Old Head', and 'Samuel, the same pictures which so attracted his uncle's attention and which he had himself copied.

A little later we find records of other of Sir Joshua's pictures copied. 'Miss Mary Meyer as Hebe', a miniature from a full-length picture painted by Sir Joshua, and in the possession of Mrs. Mayers (sic) at Kew, was copied by young John Engleheart in 1799, and in 1800 there are entries of copies made by him from the 'Sleeping Cupid', the 'Sleeping Boy', and 'Boy with a Portfolio under his Arm', and the 'Reading Boy', all works by the President, but in these cases not copied directly from the original paintings, but from the miniature copies previously made by George Engleheart. The same saucy Mary Meyer was also painted by George Engleheart in a white dress with dead-leaf yellow drapery set against a dark background, which set off her brilliant colouring delightfully. She was a wayward damsel, and on one occasion, being reproved for some fault, she ran away from home and arrived at Hammersmith at midnight, where she was accidently found by George Engleheart on his way dow to Kew, and by him taken back to her mother.

It appears as if on several occasions the lad was sent out of town to execute some commissions which, perhaps, he had himself obtained, or which his uncle was unable to attend to. The entries of October 7, 1799, relating to a drawing of Mrs. Cooper, to which the word "Pentonville" is attached; those of October 24 and 25, 1800, of miniatures of Anne and William Paterson, which are marked "Condery Farm"; the drawing and the miniature of Mrs. Haverfield, which are marked "Kew"; the miniature of Mrs. Paterson, which is also marked "Kew"; the ones of Mrs. Fulling and of Mrs. Wooley, with the same word; and, finally, the drawing of Mrs. Roberts, which is marked in the list as done at "Eton on November 14, 1800," are probably all of them commissions which John executed at the houses of the sitters, and which reveal him as already an artist whose work was in demand, or at least as a satisfactory substitute for his uncle when the work of the greater man could not be given to the task.

For the most part, however, the records of these earlier years are not so much of original work as of copies executed for his uncle, and of backgrounds to the miniature portraits done by the older artist which he employed his nephew to execute.

The second list, taken from another book kept by John Engleheart, which commences at 1801, appears to refer solely to these copies and backgrounds, and is perhaps for that reason kept apart from the former one, which included John's own work.

In this second list there appear several entries of copies made by John from finished portraits by his uncle, whether for the persons who had commissioned the originals or for his own practice is not clear; but his ability in original work at that time can be proved by the fact that it was in 1801 that he first exhibited at the Royal Academy, and that in the following year he appears to have had a studio at his father's house, as he gave his address in the Academy list as 13, Shepherd Street, Hanover Square.

Six years afterwards he had a studio of his own, and his address was given as 88, Newman Street, Oxford Street -- a street in which Cosway and Meyer had both lived, and which was a very favourite place of residence at that time for artists. There he resided till 1821, when he removed to 70, Berners Street.

In 1825 he moved into 65, Upper Berkeley Street, Portman Square, and in 1828 his address is given as 7, Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, on the last miniature which he exhibited at the Academy.

Altogether he sent in to the Royal Academy a very long list of pictures, some 157 works in all, exhibiting in some years as many as eight at a time.

He also exhibited twice at the British Institution when he was residing at Newman Street, sending in 1809 what is simply called 'A Study in Miniature', and in the following year "a miniature" measuring 12 inches by 9, entided 'Cheerfulness'.

He married in 1811, Mary Barker of Edgbaston, and by her he had four daughters -- Mrs. John Hennen, Mrs. Fulling Turner, and two unmarried ladies who are still living. Miss Lucy and Miss Melicent Engleheart, all of whose portraits appear in this work; and one son, the present Sir John Gardner Engleheart, K.C.B., who is the owner of the fee-book and most of the remaining records relating to the family, and who still resides in the family home in Curzon Street, Mayfair.

When the artist was forty-four years of age, his health, never very strong, entirely broke up, and he was obliged to relinquish the active pursuit of his profession. He went away to the Continent, and, finding that his health was thereby improved, he left England for four years in 1830, taking with him his family and travelling in Switzerland and South Italy. Two winters he spent on the shores of the Bay of Naples, and two in Rome, returning to this country in 1834 rich, as has been pleasandy said by one of his descendants, "not only in varied associations of foreign travel, but also in the acquisition of many valued friends whom his gentle presence and cultured taste had attracted towards him." On his return he resided at East Acton until 1852, in which year he established himself at Beechholm, Tunbridge Wells, where in 1862 he died at the age of seventy-eight. His widow continued to reside in the same house until her death, in her ninetieth year, in 1878, and they were both buried in the cemetery of Trinity Church, Tunbridge Wells.

As will be seen by the list of pictures which he exhibited at the Royal Academy, he was a very popular artist, but he laboured under the disadvantage common to all the men who worked at that time -- the changes of fashion in the way of costume and coiffure.

The advantages of charming costume which belonged to the men of the earlier day, and the charm of manner in which the hair was dressed, were rapidly passing away when John Engleheart was at the zenith of his reputation, and they were being superseded by costume and coiffure which were far more difficult to make picturesque, or even pleasing.

In his earliest days he so closely adopted the manner, and even the colouring, of his uncle that it is not easy at times to distinguish their work, and, in fact, one of our illustrations, that of his own father, John Dillman Engleheart, would most certainly be taken, as we ourselves at once took it, as the work of George Engleheart, were it not for the unmistakable signature and date which it bears.

His colouring, however, as he advanced in life became far hotter and less refined than his uncle's ever was, and his drawing was done with a heavier hand and lacks the dainty lightness which George Engleheart possessed in so remarkable a degree.

He always aimed, as was the custom of his period, to bring in accessories to his portraits -- flowers, trees, landscapes, vases, wood, and symbolical objects -- and so destroyed the unity of the portrait and prevented its obtaining the success which it deserved. Another fault, and one also which belonged to most of his contemporaries, was a striving to express emotion, to suggest romance and classical allusion, in the pictures, and by such means he removed from the portrait much of its simplicity.

At times, however, he could paint a simple straightforward portrait thoroughly well, but even then the gorgeous backgrounds which were so popular at the time, and which were always dark and rich in colouring, even if not actually hot, injured the effect of the picture. There was a straining after the effect of oil-painting in the miniatures of his day, and for that reason they are not nearly so pleasing as are the earlier and far simpler portraits of those who preceded him.

The portrait of his uncle George is one of the best miniatures which John ever painted, and a light and very graceful work is the portrait of his daughter Mary, afterwards the wife of John Hennen, Esq., M.D.

His wife and her sister Jane he painted in a large miniature standing in a somewhat affected pose, and the quaint conceit of Pick-a-Back, originated by Sir Joshua in his famous picture of Mrs. Payne Gallwey and her child, was adopted by this artist in his miniature of Mrs. Charles Barker and her baby, but without any great success or sense of reality. There is an affected simper in it, although the conception is pleasing. The drawing of the hands is not good, while the colouring is too hot to be satisfactory.

One of his most graceful conceptions is called Past, Present, and Future, and represents three female figures in symbolical positions. Even in this the drawing is not without reproach, and the draperies are heavy, but there is a charm in the picture and a beauty in the face and form which redeem it from being commonplace, and give it a higher position than many of these more ambitious works can claim.

In his portrait of himself the artist is well depicted as a quiet, studious man, not strong in bodily health, refined, cultured and thoughtful, but lacking, it is clear, the power of forcefulness, quickness, and nervous tension which characterized his uncle.

It was in his simplest portraits that he excelled, in cases where he did not strive after pictorial effect but confined himself to a just delineation of the person under consideration.

In many of such portraits he was successful, bringing to his task a discrimination and an insight into character which were of great value. He was, however, too much disposed to sentiment, too poetical, too romantic, to often allow himself the simpler aim of a straightforward portrait, which should reveal the sitter exactly as he or she was, but perhaps part of the very secret of his popularity for some years was this romantic and semi-classical feeling, which accorded with the sympathies of that artificial age.

Such a work as the one which he exhibited in 1809, and which he called a portrait of Miss J. Cramer in the character of 'Cheerfulness', from Collins' "Ode to the Passions," was just the sort of thing to rouse his enthusiasm and to attract attention at the Academy.

Another one of the same kind would be the picture of 'April and May', containing portraits of his wife and sister, etc., painted to illustrate the words in Cowper's "Invitation to the Country," which was exhibited in 1813, and for such works he had a great repute.

It is, however, by his portraits alone that his name will live, and not by these fanciful works, which had but an ephemeral interest and very little real artistic merit.

Of portraits he painted a vast number, and one of Richard Brinsley Sheridan shows him at his very best.

It is impossible to speak too highly of the power and force, the brilliance and characterization, of this portrait. It is a masterpiece, and if John Engleheart had done no other work than this he would have deserved ample recognition as an artist of great achievement. There is no attempt in this portrait at strained sentiment, no desire to cumber the work with a landscape background or with accessories which would but detract from the face. There is just the likeness of the man, well modelled and adequately expressed, thoughtful, brilliant, full of humour and intellectual force, coupled with indecision, and we need no other portrait of the orator, statesman, and dramatist to bring before us an excellent idea of what sort of a man he was.

John Engleheart was not only a clever, capable painter, but excelled in his pencil-drawing, and no notice of his work would be complete did it not refer to the dainty grace of the drawings which he has left behind him.

The very lightness and grace which mark them seem to have left him when he took in hand his brush, and it was but seldom that he allowed himself to execute in his painting the fine and more dainty work which he could so well have done.

Beyond the two records which we print, and some drawings and tracings which are unfortunately not named, he has left behind him very few writings or papers.

A vast quantity of his colours, however, remain in the possession of his family, and many of his brushes and trials of work, and to these there is a reference in the chapter on the colours used by his uncle, as he seems in his esteem for that relative's name and importance to have gone on using the colours which had been prepared by him, and the value and use of which he had learnt when he entered the studio in Hertford Street in 1798.

[George Engleheart (1750-1829), Miniature Painter to George III. By George C. Williamson, Litt.D. and Henry L. D. Engleheart, M.A., Great Grandnephew of the Artist: MDCCCCII (1902)]

ENGLEHEART, FRANCIS (1775-1849), engraver: nephew of George Engleheart [q. v.]: engraved for books from drawings by Richard Cook [q. v.]; engraved Sir David Wilkie's 'Duncan Gray' and 'The Only Daughter'; exhibited at the Society of British Artists, [xvii. 375]

ENGLEHEART, GEORGE (1752-1839), miniature- painter: of Silesian extraction: (note: Silesia is a region of Central Europe now located mostly in Poland) pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds; miniature-painter to the king, 1790: exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1773-1812. [xvii. 375]

ENGLEHEART, JOHN COX DILLMAN (1783-1862), miniature-painter; nephew of George Englebeart [q. v.]; exhibited at the Royal Academy,1801-28. [xvii. 375]

ENGLEHEART, THOMAS (d. 1787 ?), sculptor and modeller in wax; brother of George Engleheart [q. v.]: gold medallist of the Royal Academy for a bas-relief of 'Ulysses and Nausicaa,' 1772; exhibited wax busts and models at the Royal Academy, 1773-86. [xvii. 375]

ENGLEHEART, TIMOTHY STANSFELD (1803- 1879), engraver: engraved Gino Item's "Ecee Homo," 1840, and plates in 'The British Museum Marbles.'

[Dictionary of National Biography Index and Epitome; Edited by Sidney Lee, The MacMillan Company, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1903.]

*About the image:
John Cox Dillman Engleheart (1783 - 1862). National Portrait Gallery, London
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