Nathaniel Marchant (Biographical details)

Nathaniel Marchant (painter/draughtsman; dealer/auction house; collector; British; Male; 1739 - 1816)

Also known as

Marchant, Nathaniel

Address

New Bond Street London (in 1800)

Biography

Gem-engraver, antiquary and dealer, working in London and Rome. A pupil of Edward Burch (qv), Marchant was the foremost prizewinner of the Society of Arts competitions in intaglio engraving, winning four years running from 1761-64. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1781 to 1811 and was made an ARA in 1791. In 1772 he left for Rome to study at first hand the famous sculptures of classicial antiquity. This was to bear fruit in his 'Catalogue of 100 Impressions from Gems', published in 1792 and the major source for his oeuvre. The impressions were accompanied by a printed text explaining the subjects of each gems. Many were taken from the antique, while others were adapted from celebrated paintings or were portraits of his contemporaries, especially his patrons. These included the lawyer Matthew Duane, the 4th Duke of Marlborough and the 2nd Earl Spencer. On his return from Rome he was made 'Sculptor of Gems' to the Prince of Wales in 1789, and then 'Chief Engraver to His Majesty' in 1799, supplying Seals of State as needed. In 1797 he became engraver at the Mint, producing a head of George III used on several coins from 1804; in 1800 he was appointed Engraver at the Stamp Office, engraving dies for stamp duties and taxes. He remains one of the greatest English gem-engravers. The British Museum acquired gems by Marchant during his lifetime from the bequest of the Rev. C. M. Cracherode in 1799, including gems previously been owned by Matthew Duane. Some of the Museum's greatest gems by Marchant were destroyed in an air raid in 1941.

Bibliography

G. Seidmann, 'Nathaniel Marchant, Gem-engraver 1739-1816', Walpole Society, vol. LIII, 1987, pp. 1-105.