Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/77

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

years twenty-nine were issued, of which three, after Claude and Poussin, were by Pye himself, but the work was then discontinued. Pye finally retired from the exercise of his profession in 1858. His complete mastery of the principles of chiaroscuro in the translation of colour into black and white caused his services to be always much in request for correcting the plates of other engravers, and, after his retirement, he gave such help gratuitously.

Pye was the most energetic of the founders of the Artists' Annuity Fund, and mainly through his exertions and those of his friend William Mulready [q. v.] it was subsequently placed on a firm footing, and in 1827 received a royal charter; in recognition of his services he was presented with a silver vase and an address by the members of the fund in May 1830.

Pye spent much of his time in France, where, in 1862, he was elected a corresponding member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts; he had already, in 1846, received a gold medal from the French government, and he was also an honorary member of the Petersburg Academy of Arts. But he never sought or received honours from the Royal Academy, to which body he was bitterly hostile, in consequence of its refusal to recognise the claims of engravers to equal treatment with painters and sculptors; he was one of the spokesmen of his profession before a select committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into that subject in 1836, and also took a leading part in the controversy with his pen. In 1845 he published his well-known ‘Patronage of British Art,’ a work full of valuable information, in which he formulated with great ability and acrimony his charges against the academy and his demands for its reformation, and in 1851 he renewed the attack in a pamphlet entitled ‘A Glance at the Rise and Constitution of the Royal Academy of London;’ some of the changes he advocated he lived to see carried out.

Pye formed a very fine collection of impressions of Turner's ‘Liber Studiorum,’ which is now in the print-room of the British Museum; his notes on the subject, edited by Mr. J. L. Roget, were published in 1879.

Pye married, in 1808, Mary, daughter of Samuel Middiman [q. v.], the landscape engraver by whom he was assisted in the preliminary stages of some of his plates, and had an only child Mary, who survived him. He died at his residence, 17 Gloucester Terrace, Regent's Park, on 6 Feb. 1874.

Charles Pye (1777–1864), elder brother of John, was a pupil of James Heath, and became a good engraver in the line manner, chiefly of small book illustrations. Examples of his work are found in Inchbald's ‘British Theatre;’ Walker's ‘Effigies Poeticæ,’ 1822; and ‘Physiognomical Portraits,’ 1824. His larger plates include a view of Brereton Hall, after P. de Wint, 1818; a portrait of Robert Owen, after M. Heming, 1823; and a Holy Family, after Michael Angelo, 1825. During the latter part of his life he resided at Leamington, and he died there on 14 Dec. 1864.

[Cat. of Exhibition of Works of Birmingham Engravers, 1877; Men of the Time, 1872; Athenæum, 14 Feb. 1874; Vapereau's Dict. des Contemporains; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; private information.]

F. M. O'D.

PYE, Sir ROBERT (d. 1701), parliamentarian, was son of Sir Robert Pye (1585–1662).

The latter's eldest brother, Sir Walter Pye (1571–1635) of Mynde Park, near Killpeck, Herefordshire (cf. Gent. Mag. 1789, ii. 781), is said to have been educated at St. John's College, Oxford. He became a barrister at the Middle Temple, and was favoured by Buckingham. By the latter's influence he was made justice in Glamorganshire, Brecknockshire, and Radnorshire on 8 Feb. 1617, and attorney of the court of wards and liveries in 1621. He was knighted at Whitehall on 29 June 1630 (Metcalfe, Knights, p. 191), and, dying on 26 Dec. 1635, was buried, on 9 Jan. 1635–6, in the church of Much Dewchurch, where there is an elaborate monument in alabaster to his memory. By his first wife, Joan (d. 1625), daughter of William Rudhall of Rudhall, Herefordshire, whom he married on 22 July 1604, he had seven sons and seven daughters. The eldest son, Sir Walter (1610–1659), was father of Walter Pye, who was created Baron Kilpeck by James II after his abdication, and, being deprived of his Herefordshire property, died abroad without issue in 1690 (Herald and Genealogist, v. 32 sq.; Smith's, Obit. Camd. Soc. p. 11; Whitelocke, Liber Famelicus, Camd. Soc. pp. 54, 70, 90; Ellis, Orig. Letters, 3rd ser. iv. 170–2; Evelyn, Diary, ii. 658; Cal. State Papers, 1611–18, p. 432).

Sir Robert Pye, the parliamentarian's father, and Sir Walter's younger brother, became, by the favour of Buckingham, remembrancer of the exchequer in July 1618, was knighted on 13 July 1621, bought the manor of Farringdon, Berkshire, from the Unton family, and represented Woodstock in the Long parliament (Nichols, Progresses of James I, iii. 487, 669). He contributed 1,000l. towards the recovery of Ireland, remained at Westminster after the breach with