Sandby, Paul
British, 1731 - 1809

Biography

There has been some confusion about Paul Sandby's date of birth (frequently cited as 1725). Johnson Ball writes that the artist's early biographer, W.A. Sandby "might have been misled as were other biographers by Paul Sandby's obituary notice stating that he was eighty-four years of age when he died in 1809." [Johnson Ball, Paul and Thomas Sandby: Royal Academicians, (Great Britain, 1985), p. xvii.]

The son of a Nottingham textile artisan and the younger brother of Thomas Sandby (1721-1798), in 1747 he was appointed as a draftsman to the Military Survey in the Highlands, and spent the next five years in Scotland making pen and wash topographical drawings. In 1753 he and Thomas were giving lessons in London, and for many years after Sandby derived part of his income teaching amateurs and, occasionally, professionals too. He was one of the founder-members of the Royal Academy in 1768, the year of his appointment as drawing-master to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich near London. Sandby was a versatile artist both in his use of media and in the variety of subjects and genres he attempted, and throughout his career he exhibited works in oil, watercolor and bodycolor [gouache] that range from histories to country house views. The ramble he undertook in North Wales in 1771 with his patron Sir Watkin Williams Wynn was one of the first Picturesque tours of that part of the country, while his XII Views in South Wales (1775) are among the first aquatints made in Britain. The Virtuosi's Museum (1778-1781) is an important early collection of 108 engravings made after his drawings of country houses and other places of interest. (Wilton/Lyles 1993, p. 321)