Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/315

This page has been validated.

15 Charing Cross, he every day exhibited before aristocratic crowds his dexterity in dressing food with this stove, which had a large sale. In May 1850 he resigned his situation as chef at the Reform Club, where his salary and the fees he received from improvers brought him in almost 1,000l. a year. In May 1851 he opened Gore House, Kensington, the late residence of the Countess of Blessington, as a restaurant, hoping that the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park would bring him numerous customers. The place was well patronised, but resulted in a loss of 7,000l.

On 2 Feb. 1855 he wrote a letter to the ‘Times’ offering to proceed to Eastern Europe at his own cost to advise on the cooking for the army engaged in the Crimean war. The government accepted his services. He commenced his duties by revising the dietaries of the hospitals at Scutari and Constantinople. In two visits to Balaklava he, in conjunction with Miss Nightingale and the medical staff, reorganised the victualling of the hospitals, in addition to undertaking the cooking for the fourth division of the army. On 3 May 1857 he returned to London, and on 18 March 1858 he lectured at the United Service Institution on cooking for the army and navy. His cooking wagon for the army was soon adopted in the public service. He next reformed the dietary of the government emigration commissioners and of the military hospitals, and erected a model kitchen at the Wellington Barracks, London.

He died at 15 Marlborough Hill, St. John's Wood, London, on 5 Aug. 1858, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery on 11 Aug. His wife, Elizabeth Emma Soyer, is separately noticed. His personalty was sworn under 1,500l. The French cook, M. Mirobolant, in Thackeray's ‘History of Pendennis’ (1849 edit. pp. 230, &c.), is said to be a sketch of Soyer. Soyer wrote many books on the culinary art. Of his ‘Gastronomic Regenerator, a simplified and new system of Cookery’ (1846), two thousand copies at a guinea each were sold. It contained plans and drawings of kitchens, from the matchless establishment of the Reform Club to a cottage cooking-place. In 1849 he brought out ‘The Modern Housewife or Ménagère,’ and in 1853 a ‘History of Food in all Ages,’ under the title of ‘The Pantropheon.’ The latter is a careful and laborious compilation, containing three thousand references to various authors. His other publications were:

  1. ‘A Shilling Cookery Book for the People,’ 1855.
  2. ‘Soyer's Culinary Campaign, with the plain Art of Cookery for Military and Civil Institutions,’ 1857.
  3. ‘Instructions for Military Hospitals: the Receipts by A. Soyer,’ 1860.

[Volant and Warren's Memoirs of A. Soyer, 1858, with portrait; Fagan's Reform Club, 1887, pp. 64–9, 77–9, with portrait; Sala's Things I have seen, 1894, i. 12–17, 101, ii. 240–9; Punch, 9 Jan. 1847, p. 14; Harper's Mag. Feb. 1858, pp. 325–34, with portrait; Illustrated News of the World, 1855, ii. 140; Morning Chron. 6 Aug. 1858, p. 5, 9 Aug. p. 5, 12 Aug. p. 5; Times, 6 Aug. 1858, p. 8. See also Camp Cookery by Alicksus Sawder in Yates and Brough's Our Miscellany, 1857, pp. 135–40.]

G. C. B.

SOYER, ELIZABETH EMMA (1813–1842), painter, daughter of a Mr. Jones who died in 1818, was born in London in 1813, and was carefully instructed in French, Italian, and music. At a very early age she became a pupil of F. Simoneau the painter, who in 1820 married her mother, Mrs. Jones. Finding that Emma had talents for drawing, Simoneau ultimately devoted the whole of his time to her instruction, and before the age of twelve she had drawn more than a hundred portraits from life with surprising fidelity.

On 12 April 1837 she married Alexis Benoît Soyer [q. v.] the cook. She now turned her attention to portraits in oil, and, with her master, travelled in the provinces and gained great popularity. Upon her return to London she produced ‘The Blind Boy,’ ‘The Crossing Sweeper,’ ‘The Bavarians,’ ‘Taglioni and the Kentish Ceres.’ In 1842 she completed her last work, ‘The Two Organ Boys.’ On 29–30 Aug. 1842 she was prematurely confined owing to fright produced by a terrible thunderstorm, and she died the same night at her residence near Charing Cross, London. She was buried at Kensal Green on 8 Sept., where her husband erected a sumptuous monument to her memory.

Between 1823 and 1843 fourteen of her pictures were exhibited at the Royal Academy, thirty-eight at the British Institution, and fourteen at the Suffolk Street Gallery (Graves, Dictionary of Artists, pp. 130, 221).

In June 1848 one hundred and forty of her works were exhibited at the Prince of Wales's bazaar, under the name of Soyer's Philanthropic Gallery, on behalf of the Spitalfields soup kitchen, and a catalogue was printed. Among these pictures was ‘The Young Savoyards Resting,’ a work which obtained for Madame Soyer the name of the ‘English Murillo.’ Two of her pieces, ‘The Jew Lemon Boys’ and ‘The English Ceres,’ were engraved by Gérard. In Paris, where many of her pictures were exhibited, her re-