John Saddler was born on 14 August 1813 in Marylebone, Middlesex, the son of Samuel and Sarah Saddler. As a pupil he studied under George Cooke (1781-1834) the Engraver of Turner’s ‘Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England’, and it is related that on one occasion he was sent to Turner with the trial proof of a plate of which he had himself engraved a considerable portion. Scanning the plate with his eagle eye, Turner asked ‘Who did this plate, my boy?’ ‘Mr. Cooke, sir,’ answered Saddler, to which Turner replied, ‘Go and tell your master he is bringing you on very nicely, especially in lying.’ Later on he engraved the vessels in the plate of Turner’s ‘Fighting Téméraire,’ the sky of which was the joint production of R. Dickens and J. T. Willmore, A.R.A., and he used to say that Turner took a keener interest in the engraving of this than of any others of his works.
Saddler assisted Thomas Landseer in several of his engravings from the works of Sir Edwin Landseer, especially ‘The Twins,’ ‘The Children of the Mist,’ ‘Marmozettes,’ and ‘Braemar,’ and also in the plate of the ‘Horse Fair,’ after Rosa Bonheur. Among works executed entirely by him are ‘The Lady of the Woods,’ after John MacWhirter, R.A.; ‘The Christening Party,’ after A. Bellows, engraved for the ‘Art Journal’ of 1872; ‘Shrimpers’ and ‘Shrimping,’ after H. W. Mesdag, and many book illustrations after Millais, Poynter, Tenniel, Gustave Doré, and others. He also engraved plates of ‘Christ Church, Hampshire,’ after J. Nash, and ‘Durham Cathedral,’ after H. Dawson, for the ‘Stationers’ Almanack,’ and some other views and portraits, and at the time of his death was engaged on the portrait of John Walter, from the picture begun by Frank Holl, R.A., and finished by Hubert Herkomer, R.A. He exhibited a few works at the Society of British Artists, and others at the Royal Academy between 1862 and 1883.
Saddler was for many years the treasurer of the Artists’ Amicable Fund, and was thus brought into contact with most of the artists of his time, and many and racy were the anecdotes of them which he was wont to tell. In 1882 he left London, and went to reside at Wokingham in Berkshire, where on 29 March 1892 he committed suicide by hanging himself during an attack of temporary insanity.
[Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 17 p. 590; Times, 7 April 1892; Reading Mercury, 2 April 1892; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1862–83.]
Gallery: Engravings by John Saddler artwork appearing in Edwin Carton Booth’s “Australia” published in 1873
Provenance: “Australia” vols. I & 2, 1873; Edwin Carton Booth F.R.C.I. with drawings by (John) Skinner Prout, N. (Nicholas) Chevalier, &c. &c.Author: Edwin Carton Booth
Contributor: John Skinner Prout (1805-1876)
Contributor: Nicholas Chevalier (1828-1902)
Date of Publication: 1873
Publisher: Virtue & Co
Place of Publishing: London
Copyright status: Out of copyright
Courtesy: The British Library