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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Augustus Leopold Egg

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AUGUSTUS LEOPOLD EGG (1816-1863), English painter, was born on the 2nd of May 1816 in London, where his father carried on business as a gun-maker. He had some schooling at Bexley, and was not at first intended for the artistic profession; but, developing a faculty in this line, he entered in 1834 the drawing class of Mr Sass, and in 1836 the school of the Royal Academy. His first exhibited picture appeared in 1837 at the Suffolk Street gallery. In 1838 he began exhibiting in the Academy, his subject being a "Spanish Girl"; altogether he sent twenty-seven works to this institution. In 1848 he became an associate and in 1860 a full member of the Academy: he had considerable means, apart from his profession. In 1857 he took a leading part in selecting and arranging the modern paintings in the Art-Treasures Exhibition in Manchester. His constitution being naturally frail, he went in 1853, with Dickens and Wilkie Collins, to Italy for a short trip, and in 1863 he visited Algeria. Here he benefited so far as his chronic lung-disease was concerned; but exposure to a cold wind while out riding brought on an attack of asthma, from which he died on the 26th of March 1863 at Algiers, near which city his remains were buried.

Egg was a gifted and well-trained painter of genre, chiefly in the way of historical anecdote, or of compositions from the poets and novelists. Among his principal pictures may be named: 1843, the "Introduction of Sir Piercie Shafton and Halbert Glendinning" (from Scott's Monastery); 1846, "Buckingham Rebuffed"; 1848, "Queen Elizabeth discovers she is no longer young"; 1850, "Peter the Great sees Catharine for the first time"; 1854, "Charles I. raising the Standard at Nottingham" (a study); 1855, the "Life and Death of Buckingham"; 1857 and 1858, two subjects from Thackeray's Esmond; 1858, "Past and Present, a triple picture of a faithless wife"; 1859, the "Night before Naseby"; 1860, his last exhibited work, the Dinner Scene from The Taming of the Shrew. The Tate Gallery contains one of his earlier pictures, Patricio entertaining two Ladies, from the Diable boiteux; it was painted in 1844.

Egg was rather below the middle height, with dark hair and a handsome well-formed face; the head of Peter the Great (in the picture of Peter and Catharine, which may be regarded as his best work, along with the Life and Death of Buckingham) was studied, but of course considerably modified, from his own countenance. He was manly, kind-hearted, pleasant, and very genial and serviceable among brother-artists; social and corn panionable, but holding mainly aloof from fashionable circles. As an actor he had uncommon talent. He appeared among Dickens's company of amateurs in 1852 in Lord Lytton's comedy Not so Bad as we Seem, and afterwards in Wilkie Collins's Frozen Deep, playing the humorous part of Job Want.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Augustus Leopold Egg'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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