Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Deering, John Peter

DEERING, formerly Gandy, JOHN PETER (1787–1850), architect, was the younger brother of the painter Joseph Gandy, A.R.A. (1771–1843), and brother also of the architect Michael Gandy (1778–1862). John Peter Gandy, the best known of the family, early displayed artistic leanings. At the age of eighteen he was admitted a student of the Royal Academy, and immediately began to exhibit there. His first exhibit, in 1806, the year after his admission, was entitled ‘Leading to the Apartments of the Dead.’ In 1807 he exhibited ‘A Design for the Royal Academy,’ and in 1810 two drawings of ‘An Ancient City’ and ‘The Environs of an Ancient City.’ In 1805 he published ‘The Rural Architect,’ and continued to contribute drawings of architectural subjects to the exhibitions of the Academy until his election in 1826 as an associate of that body, his early efforts uniformly displaying imaginative power as well as technical skill. In 1811 he undertook for the Dilettanti Society a journey to Greece, where he remained till 1813, and where he met and formed the acquaintance of Lord Elgin, of antiquarian fame, by whom he was afterwards employed to erect the mansion-house of Broom Hall in Fifeshire. Some results of this visit to classic soil appeared in the exhibition of a drawing entitled ‘The Mystic Temple of Ceres,’ in the Royal Academy exhibition of 1814, and in his being associated with Sir W. Gell in the publication in 1817–1819 of ‘Pompeiana,’ in which the results of the excavations then being made upon the site of the ancient Pompeii were illustrated and described with taste, accuracy, and appreciation. This well-known work had a great success, and a third edition, embodying the results of excavations since 1819, was published in 1832. It is still a standard work. His next important work was a design, along with Wilkins, R.A., of a tower 280 feet high to commemorate the victory of Waterloo, which was exhibited and much admired, though the scheme fell through. He now devoted himself to the practice of his profession, and among his principal works may be mentioned Exeter Hall, Strand, London; St. Mark's Chapel, North Audley Street; the Phœnix Fire Insurance Office, Charing Cross; the older part of the University College buildings, Gower Street; and the University Club, Pall Mall; in the two last being associated with his friend Wilkins. He was elected A.R.A. in 1826. In 1827 he acquired by bequest from his friend Henry Deering of the Lee, the estate of that name, near Missenden, Buckinghamshire. He assumed the name of Deering, and, gradually renouncing the active practice of his profession, devoted himself to public life and the management of his property. From 1847 until his death he was conservative M.P. for Aylesbury, but his life as a politician does not call for any remark. In 1838 he was elected a royal academician, and in 1840 he filled the office of high sheriff of his county. From that time until his death on 22 March 1850 he lived in retirement on his estate. As an architect he was distinguished by his knowledge of classic, especially of Greek, architecture, and by that refinement of taste in design which is the natural result of classic study. His election as a member of the Royal Academy was ascribed by many rather to influence and wealth than to talent, and the facts that he ceased exhibiting immediately on becoming an academician, and that after his accession to wealth he did little for art, indicate that his talents and education would have shown to more advantage had he been a poorer man.

[Gent. Mag. 1850, vol. xxxiii.; Athenæum, 9 March 1850, p. 266; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists.]

G. W. B.