Tuesday, March 23, 2010

William Henry Pyne (1770-1843)


Last year, at an auction, I picked up a small watercolour seascape by W H Pyne. It is a calm and unimposing picture of two men walking across dunes with two Beagle-like dogs. I was excited to buy it, not only because it was going for a tiny sum of money, but to have the pleasure of owning an original piece of work by an, albeit mostly forgotten now, Regency character.

William Henry Pyne was the son of a leather seller and became best known as an illustrator and the author of The Costumes of Great Britian, published 1808, which showed the costumes of ordinary people, and The History of Royal Residences, published 1816-19, which showed the interiors of the many royal palaces and was issued with the approval of the royal family. He attracted the patronage of the successful publisher Rudolf Ackermann but unfortunately, publishing caused Pyne significant financial problems and he ended up spending time in debtors prison and sadly died in poverty. His last book was entitled The Twenty-Ninth of May, a novel, and he died on 29th May 1843, following a long illness. Many of his watercolours, drawings, and books are held by the British
Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

(Illustration from The Costumes of Great Britain)
(Info from The Dictionary of National Biography)

Kate Allan

4 comments:

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Love the picture, Kate, but surely it can't be from 'The Costumes of Great Britain'. Unless it is showing this season's must have costumes for being in the pillory!

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I've just been reading Pyne's entry in the DNB. A very interesting man who deserves to be better remembered. Congratulations on acquiring your water colour. You must have a good eye.

ami blackwelder said...

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Monica Fairview said...

I hadn't heard of Pyne. He sounds like a fascinating person. What an unhappy life!