Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Walker, James (1748-1808?)

729050Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59 — Walker, James (1748-1808?)1899Campbell Dodgson

WALKER, JAMES (1748–1808?), mezzotint engraver, son of a captain in the merchant service, was born in 1748. He became a pupil of Valentine Green [q. v.], but not in his fifteenth year, as has been alleged, for in 1763 Green himself had not begun to engrave in mezzotint. Walker's earliest published plate bears the date 2 July 1780. During the following three years he published a number of good portraits after Romney and others, some domestic scenes, ‘The Spell,’ and ‘The Village Doctress,’ after Northcote; a scene from ‘Cymbeline,’ after Penny. In 1784 he went to St. Petersburg, being appointed engraver to the Empress Catharine II. He remained in Russia till 1802, engraving numerous portraits of the imperial family and of the Russian aristocracy, as well as pictures by the old masters in the imperial collection. Walker's appointment as court engraver was renewed by the Emperor Alexander I, and he was a member of the Imperial Academy of Art at St. Petersburg. He returned to England with a pension in 1802, when many of his plates were lost by shipwreck off Yarmouth. A list of these is given in the catalogue of a sale of his remaining plates and of impressions from the lost plates, at Sotheby's, on 29 Nov. 1822. A portrait of Alexander I was published after his return, on 1 May 1803. Walker is said to have died about 1808, and this is not necessarily inconsistent with the fact that a number of his mezzotints were published for the first time in 1819, and one, ‘The Triumph of Cupid,’ after Parmegiano, in 1822.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits, iv. 1429.]

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