Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mackenzie, Frederick
MACKENZIE, FREDERICK (1788?–1854), water-colour painter and architectural draughtsman, born in 1787 or 1788, was the son of Thomas Mackenzie, linendraper, and a pupil of John Adey Repton the architect. He was early employed in making architectural and topographical drawings for the works of John Britton [q. v.] and others, and his life was mainly devoted to this class of art. In 1804 he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, and contributed eleven drawings between that year and 1828. He contributed to the (now Royal) Society of Painters in Water-colours from 1813, becoming an associate in 1822, and a full member the following year. From 30 Nov. 1831 till his death he was treasurer to the society, and took great interest in its proceedings. In 1842 he designed the slab which was placed over the grave of George Barret the younger [q. v.] He married in 1843 Mrs. Hine, a widow, the daughter of Mr. John Carpenter, a farmer; but his married life was troubled with pecuniary difficulties. Though still able and industrious, employment failed. The photographer had supplanted the architectural draughtsman, and his beautiful art was no longer needed to illustrate the books upon which he had throughout life depended for a living.
Mackenzie drew very little except architecture, but he drew this beautifully, was a rich colourist, and used his brush with singular accuracy and delicacy. Of the eighty-eight drawings which formed the sum total of his contributions to the exhibitions of the Water-colour Society during his membership, nearly all were English in subject. In 1812 he published ‘Etchings of Landscapes for the Use of Students,’ in 1844 ‘Architectural Antiquities of St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster,’ and in 1846 ‘Observations on the Construction of the Roof of King's College Chapel, Cambridge.’ But the bulk of his work will be found in the following books: Britton's ‘Beauties of England and Wales;’ ‘Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain’ (1807 and 1809—twenty-five drawings engraved); ‘History of the Abbey Church at Westminster’ (Ackerman, 1812—thirty-two coloured aquatints); Britton's ‘Cathedral Antiquities’ (Salisbury Cathedral—fifty-eight plates); Havell's ‘Noblemen's and Gentlemen's Seats’ (drawings dated 1816 and 1819); ‘Histories of Oxford and Cambridge’ (Ackerman, 1814 and 1815—thirty-nine plates); ‘Colleges of Winchester, Eton, &c.,’ 1816 (thirteen plates); ‘Abbeys and Castles in Yorkshire’ (in conjunction with William Westall); Pugin's ‘Specimens of Gothic Architecture,’ 1821; ‘Principal Antiquities of Oxfordshire,’ Oxford, 1823; ‘Memorials of Oxford,’ by James Ingram, 1837 (one hundred plates); Heath's ‘Picturesque Annual,’ 1839 (six plates); ‘Memorials of Cambridge,’ by Wright and Jones, 1841; ‘The Churches of London,’ published by Tilt (drawings dated 1837–9).
Among his more interesting drawings were ‘The King's Coronation’ (1822) and ‘The Principal Room of the Original National Gallery, formerly the Residence of John Julius Angerstein, Esq., lately pulled down.’ The latter was contributed to the society's exhibition in 1836, and is now in the South Kensington Museum, together with two drawings of Lincoln Cathedral and one of Thornton Abbey, Lincolnshire. A beautiful sepia drawing of Antwerp Cathedral is in the British Museum.
He died, 25 April 1854, of disease of the heart, leaving his wife and invalid daughter dependent on charity. The Water-colour Society, which he had so long served, presented them with 110l., and a subscription was raised among his friends to purchase an annuity for their benefit. He was buried at Highgate cemetery, and his remaining works were sold at Christie's in March 1855.
[Roget's History of the ‘Old Water-colour’ Society; Redgrave's Dictionary; Bryan's Dictionary (Graves and Armstrong); (Algernon) Graves's Dictionary; Catalogue of Water-colours at South Kensington Museum.]