Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eccardt, John Giles

ECCARDT or ECKHARDT, JOHN GILES (Johannes Ægidius) (d. 1779), portrait-painter, was a native of Germany, and came to England about 1740, as pupil and assistant to Jean Baptiste Vanloo, one of the portrait-painters then most in vogue. He subsequently succeeded to Vanloo's practice and his house in Covent Garden. He was patronised by Horace Walpole, who employed him to paint or copy portraits of the friends who formed the Strawberry Hill circle, including Walpole himself. Some of them, such as Bentley, Gray, and Montagu, Eccardt painted to please his patron in attitudes taken from the ‘Centum Icones’ of Vandyck. Seven of these were engraved by W. Greatbatch for P. Cunningham's edition of ‘Walpole's Correspondence’ (9 vols. 1880). They were dispersed at the sale of the Strawberry Hill collection. In July 1746 Walpole addressed a short poem to Eccardt entitled ‘The Beauties,’ and founded on Addison's epistle to Kneller; this was published in September 1746, though Walpole asserts that he was hurt at the lines getting into print. Among other portraits painted by Eccardt were those of Dr. Conyers Middleton [q. v.], purchased in 1881 for the National Portrait Gallery, which was engraved by Ravenet, as a frontispiece to Middleton's works by Vertue, and also in mezzotint by Faber; Captain Barnard, at Wilton House; two of Mrs. Woffington, one engraved in mezzotint by Faber, another in line by Pearson; and Mr. Charles Leviez, a dancing-master, engraved in mezzotint by McArdell. A portrait of Lady Maria Churchill by Eccardt was sold at Christie's in the Hanbury-Williams sale in March 1888. His portraits are carefully executed, in a manner studied and copied from Vanloo, but do not show any originality. Eccardt married the daughter of Mr. Duhamel, a watchmaker in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, with whom he at one time lodged. On retiring from business he removed to Paradise Row, Chelsea, where he died in October 1779, leaving a son, a clerk in the custom house. He contributed a portrait of himself to the exhibition of the Society of Artists in 1761, and in 1768 his name appears among the honorary exhibitors at the same. His collection was sold by auction in 1770.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Peter Cunningham's Letters of Horace Walpole (1880); Sale Catalogue, Strawberry Hill Collection; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painters, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits; Catalogues of the Society of Artists; information from G. Scharf, C.B., F.S.A.]

L. C.