Edward Dayes (1763–1804) was an English watercolour painter and engraver in mezzotint.
He studied under William Pether, and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1786, sending views of Waltham and Canterbury; in the three following years he exhibited miniatures as well as landscapes. He continued to exhibit there regularly till the year of his death, contributing in all sixty-four works. He also was an exhibitor at the Society of Artists. He committed suicide at the end of May 1804.
In 1798 Dayes began to exhibit classic and scriptural subjects, such as The Fall of the Angels (1798), John preaching in the Wilderness (1799), the Triumph of Beauty (1800), and Elisha causing Iron to swim (1801). Many of his drawings were crowded with figures; among these were two views of the interior of St. Paul's Cathedral on the occasion of the thanksgiving for the king's recovery in 1789, The Trial of Warren Hastings in Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham House, St. James's Park (1780), which was hung in the South Kensington Museum. All these works were engraved.
Dayes drew from nature in various parts of England, including the Lake District and Wales, and his sketches in grey tints were precursors of the English school of water-colour. He was the master of Thomas Girtin, and his influence is seen in the early drawings of J. M. W. Turner. He was draughtsman to the Duke of York. In the South Kensington Museum he was represented by a view of Ely Cathedral (1792), and views of Windermere and Keswick Lake.
Dayes engraved at least four plates in mezzotint, one after George Morland, another after John Raphael Smith, and two humorous scenes called Rustic Courtship and Polite Courtship. He wrote an Excursion through Derbyshire and Yorkshire, Essays on Painting; Instructions for Drawing and Colouring Landscapes, and Professional Sketches of Modern Artists. After his death his works were collected and edited by E. W. Bradley, and published for the benefit of his widow in 1805.
His wife painted miniatures and exhibited four works at the Royal Academy between 1797 and 1800.
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