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Edwards, Edward (1738-1806)

Edwards, Edward, London, furniture designer (b. 1738– d. 1806). Born in London, the son of a chairmaker and carver native of Shrewsbury. Aged fifteen he was app. to work with his father in the shop of William Hallett, the well-known cm and u of Long Acre, and among the chief exponents of the Gothic and Chinese styles. Remaining there for three years Edwards ‘drew patterns for furniture’ and ‘sought every opportunity of looking at works of art’. In 1759 he became a student in the Duke of Richmond's Academy, and in 1760, opened an evening school in Compton St, Soho, to support his widowed mother and sister. Here he taught drawing to ‘several young men who either aimed to be artists, or to qualify themselves to be cabinet, or ornamental furniture makers’. In 1769 he became a student of the Royal Academy and in 1773 was elected an Associate. Two years later he went to Italy to study art, but mediocre as a painter, he returned to furniture designing. On his return ‘he was soon engaged by the honourable Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill’, as his master, Hallett, had been. He received commissions from Walpole until 1784, in which year he designed a cabinet in the Gothic style. He was appointed Teacher of Perspective at the Academy in 1788, where he frequently exhibited. An antiquarian, he studied and etched Newcastle topography, and painted scenery for a Newcastle theatre in 1787. He wrote Anecdotes of Painters, published posthumously in 1808, and containing a brief autobiography. The V & A has a portfolio of his sketches of old furniture, architectural details, glass and silverware. Edwards died on 19 December 1806. [DEF; C. Life, 7 June 1930, pp. 848–50]

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.