Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PINE, Robert Edge, artist, born in London, England, in 1730, or, according to some authorities, in 1742; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19 November, 1788. The earlier date of birth seems the more probable from the fact that in 1760 he gained the first prize of £100 from the Society for the encouragement of the arts for the best historical picture that was offered, "The Surrender of Calais," with figures as large as life. He was the son of John Pine, the skilful artist Who published (1733-'7) the beautiful edition of Horace with the text engraved throughout by himself, and embellished with rignettes, and whose portrait by Hogarth, in the style of Rembrandt, is familiar to students of that artist's works. From whom the son gleaned his art instruction is not known, but doubtless the rudiments were instilled by his father. In 1762 he again took a first prize for his picture of " Canute reproving his Courtiers." Both of these prize pictures have been engraved. Between these two dates he had for a pupil John Hamilton Mortimer (1741-'79), which would hardly have been the case had he been only between eighteen and twenty. Pine devoted himself to historical composition and portraiture, but succeeded best in the latter branch of art. The most familiar portraits of John Wilkes, whose principles he espoused, and of David Garrick, whose friendship he possessed, are from his easel, and have been repeatedly engraved. He painted at least four different portraits of Garrick, one of which is in the National portrait gallery, London. In 1782 he held an exhibition of a collection of Shakespearian pictures that he had painted, some of which were engraved afterward, and found their way into Boydell's Shakespeare. The next year, or the early part of the following one, Pine brought his family to Philadelphia. His object in coming to this country was to paint portraits of the eminent men of the Revolution, with a view of representing in several large paintings the principal events of the war, but he never carried out his project. He brought letters to Francis Hopkinson, and the first portrait he is said to have painted after his arrival is the well-known one of that patriot. A letter from this gentleman to Washington, explaining Pine's design and asking him to sit to the artist for his portrait, drew out the famous "In for a penny, in for a pound" letter, dated Mt. Vernon, 16 May, 1785. Pine's likeness of Washington was engraved for Irving's "Life of Washington," but is a weak and unsatisfactory picture, as are all of Pine's portraits that were painted in this country. He was generously patronized by well-known people, doubtless owing to his friendly disposition toward the land of his adoption, and Robert Morris built a house for him in Philadelphia which was adapted for the exhibition of his pictures and the prosecution of his painting. Here he died suddenly of apoplexy. He is described as a "very small man, morbidly irritable. His wife and daughters were also very diminutive--they were indeed a family of pigmies." After his death his wife petitioned the legislature of Pennsylvania to be allowed to dispose of her husband's pictures by lottery, which request was granted. A large number of them fell into the possession of Daniel Bowen, who removed them to Boston, where they were destroyed in the burning of the Columbian museum. They served before their destruction to give to Washington Allston his first lessons in color--Pine's strong point as an artist. He painted portraits of several of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, including the familiar ones of Robert Morris, George Read, and Thomas Stone. A beautiful portrait of Mrs. John Jay, by Pine, is in the possession of her grandson, John Jay, of New York city.
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