Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gandy, William

GANDY, WILLIAM (d. 1729), portrait-painter, son of James Gandy [q. v.], was probably born in Ireland. He was for some years an itinerant painter in Devonshire and the west of England, went to Plymouth in 1714, and eventually settled in Exeter. According to Northcote, whose grandfather and father knew and befriended Gandy, the painter was a man of most intractable disposition, very resentful, of unbounded pride, and in the latter part of his life both idle and luxurious; he was at all times totally careless of his reputation as a painter, though he might have been the greatest painter of his time. He liked people to think that he was a natural son of his father's patron, the Duke of Ormonde, and that he was so much concerned in the duke's affairs that he was not able to make a public appearance in London. His portraits, though sometimes slight and sketchy, showed real genius, and have been frequently admired by great artists. The portrait of the Rev. Tobias Langdon in the college hall at Exeter excited the admiration of Sir Godfrey Kneller. Gandy may also be credited with having directed and stimulated the rising genius of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds saw Gandy's pictures early in life, and they made a great impression on his mind; he, like Northcote, often borrowed one of Gandy's portraits, probably the Langdon portrait, to study. His portraits are seldom found out of the west of England. He painted Northcote's grandmother, the Rev. Nathaniel Harding of Plymouth, the Rev. John Gilbert, vicar of St. Andrew's, Plymouth (engraved by Vertue as a frontispiece to Gilbert's ‘Sermons’), John Patch, surgeon in the Exeter Hospital, the Rev. William Musgrave (engraved by Michael van der Gucht), Sir Edward Seaward in the chapel of the poorhouse at Exeter, Sir William Elwill, bart., and others. From his idleness and want of ambition Gandy frequently left his pictures to be finished by others. He died in Exeter, and was buried in St. Paul's Church on 14 July 1729.

[Northcote's notice of Gandy in Appendix to Life of Reynolds; Cotton's Life of Reynolds; Leslie and Taylor's Life and Times of Reynolds; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists.]

L. C.