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Vandergucht, Benjamin

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Vandergucht’s father and grandfather were both engravers. The latter had come to England from Antwerp in the seventeenth century. Benjamin Vandergucht studied at the St Martin’s Academy and was one of the earliest students to be admitted to the Royal Academy Schools, gaining a silver medal in 1774. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, mostly portraits and theatrical scenes in the style of Zoffany. He had received work from Garrick since 1772, and in 1779 he showed a head of Garrick, exhibited after the actor’s death and said to be the last portrait Garrick sat for. A number of his works were engraved in mezzotint. In 1786 he ceased practicing as a painter and, as his father had done before him, turned to picture cleaning and dealing. He was drowned in 1794, aged 41, while crossing the Thames from Chiswick, near Mortlake when his boat was capsized by a barge. His dealer’s stock of old master pictures was sold at Christie’s in 1796, and the proceeds went towards the support of his widow and their eleven children.
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