THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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DANCE, the name of an English family distinguished in architecture, art and the drama. George Dance, the elder (1700-1768), obtained the appointment of architect to the city of London, and designed the Mansion House (1739); the churches of St Botolph, Aldgate (1741), St Luke’s, Old Street; St Leonard, Shoreditch; the old excise office; Broad Street; and other public works of importance. He died on the 8th of February 1768. His eldest son, James Dance (1722-1744), was born on the 17th of March 1722, and educated at the Merchant Taylors’ School and St John’s College, Oxford, which he left before graduating. He took the name of Love, and became an actor and playwright of no great merit. In the former capacity he was for twelve years connected with Drury Lane theatre. He wrote “an heroic poem” on Cricket, about 1740, and a volume of Poems on Several Occasions (1754), and a number of comedies—the earliest Pamela (1742).

George Dance’s third son, Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, Bart. (1735-1811), was born on the 18th of May 1735, and studied art under Francis Hayman, and in Italy, where he met Angelica Kauffmann, to whom he was devotedly and hopelessly attached. From Rome he sent home “Dido and Aeneas” (1763), and he continued to paint occasional historical pictures of the same quasi-classic kind throughout his career. On his return to England he took up portrait-painting with great success, and contributed to the first exhibition of the Royal Academy, of which he was a foundation member, full-length portraits of George III. and his queen. These, and his portraits of Captain Cook and of Garrick as Richard III., engraved by Dixon, are his best-known works. Himself a rich man, in 1790 he married a widow with £15,000 a year, dropped his profession, and became M.P. for East Grinstead, taking the additional name of Holland. He was made a baronet in 1800. He died on the 15th of October 1811, leaving a fortune of £200,000.

George Dance’s fifth and youngest son, George Dance, the younger (1741-1825), succeeded his father as city surveyor and architect in 1768. He was then only twenty-seven, had spent several years abroad, chiefly in Italy with his brother Nathaniel, and had already distinguished himself by designs for Blackfriars Bridge sent to the 1761 exhibition of the Incorporated Society of Artists. His first important public work was the rebuilding of Newgate prison in 1770. The front of the Guildhall was also his. He, too, was a foundation member of the Royal Academy, and for a number of years the last survivor of the forty original academicians. His last years were devoted to art rather than to architecture, and after 1798 his Academy contributions consisted solely of chalk portraits of his friends, seventy-two of which were engraved and published (1808-1814). He resigned his office in 1815, and after many years of illness died on the 14th of January 1825, and was buried in St Paul’s. His son, Charles Dance (1794-1863), was for thirty years registrar, taxing officer and chief clerk of the insolvent debtors’ court, retiring, when it was abolished, on an allowance. In collaboration with J. R. Planché and others, or alone, he wrote a great number of extravaganzas, farces and comediettas. He was one of the first, if not the first, of the burlesque writers, and was the author of those produced so successfully by Madame Vestris for years at the Olympic. Of his farces, Delicate Ground, Who Speaks First?, A Morning Call and others are still occasionally revived. He died on the 6th of January 1863.


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