Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Taylor, William Benjamin Sarsfield

TAYLOR, WILLIAM BENJAMIN SARSFIELD (1781–1850), painter of landscapes and military subjects, the son of John Taylor, a map-engraver in Dublin, was born in 1781. By his mother he was descended from Patrick Sarsfield [q. v.] John Sydney Taylor [q. v.] was his younger brother. He began life in the army commissariat, and, serving in the Peninsular war, was present at the siege of San Sebastian. Quitting the service, he devoted himself to art, though without any conspicuous success. He exhibited landscapes, sea-pieces, and military subjects at the Royal Academy and the British Institution between 1820 and 1847. He afterwards became better known as an art critic and writer, and published in 1841 ‘The Origin, Progress, and present Conditions of the Fine Arts in Great Britain and Ireland.’

Besides the works mentioned he was the author of ‘A Manual of Fresco and Encaustic Painting,’ 1843. He also published a translation of Mérimée's ‘Art of Painting in Oil and Fresco,’ 1839, and an abridged translation of the ‘Origin and Progress of the Penitentiary System in the United States,’ 1833, from the report of de Beaumont and de Tocqueville, which was well received (Athenæum, 1841, pp. 548, 573). His best known work, however, was his ‘History of Dublin University,’ which appeared in 1845, illustrated with coloured plates and with engravings. It contains biographical notices of many of the university alumni. Towards the close of his life he was curator of the St. Martin's Lane academy. He died on 23 Dec. 1850.

[Gent. Mag. 1851, i. 321; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biogr.; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.]

W. A.