History

George Vertue

History

George Vertue, engraver, is buried in the north cloister of Westminster Abbey near a supposed family member, a 16th century monk of Westminster William Vertue. A mural tablet was erected nearby on the wall of the west cloister. The inscription reads:

"Here lyes the body of GEORGE VERTUE, late engraver and fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, who was born in London Anno 1684 and departed this life on the 24th of July 1756. With manners gentle, and a grateful heart, and all the genius of the graphic art, his fame shall each succeeding artist own, longer by far than monuments of stone. MARGARET VERTUE his faithful wife, who survived him near twenty years, lies buried in the same grave. She died March 17th 1776 aged 76".

He was born on 17 November 1684, a son of James Vertue and his wife Mary (Carter). Both parents were servants in the household of the exiled James II. He studied under Vandergucht and set up work as an engraver of portraits. In 1717 he became engraver to the Society of Antiquaries and was also a book illustrator and publisher. In 1720 he married Margaret Evans but they had no children. He executed most of the plates in Vetusta Monumenta and for the Oxford Almanacs. For forty years he collected material for a history of fine arts in England and these were purchased from Vertue's widow by Horace Walpole, who compiled his Anecdotes of Painting in England from them.

A photo of the memorial can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.