Copyright
J. E. (John Evan) Hodgson.

The Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 online

. (page 14 of 35)
Online LibraryJ. E. (John Evan) HodgsonThe Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 → online text (page 14 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


unfit for such delicate work, he turned to oil-painting, spending
four years at Rome, from 1773 to 1777, in studying its principles.
He then came back to London, and was elected an Associate in
J 779> Dut did not receive the honour of full membership till
1791, the delay being no doubt in great measure owing to his
having gone to India in 1785, and being absent till 1788. In
India he painted the portraits of a great number of distinguished
persons, and returned with a large fortune. He still, however,
continued to work, chiefly owing to his failing sight, in crayons,
till 1797, when his eyes completely failed him. He died in 1810.



CHAPTER X

ASSOCIATES ELECTED DURING THE PRESIDENCY OF SIR
JOSHUA REYNOLDS WHO DID NOT BECOME ACADEMICIANS

IT now remains to give some account of the twenty-seven
Associates elected during the presidency of Reynolds, who never
reached the rank of Academician. Of these nine were engravers,
to whom at that period the higher honour was not open, and
who, as has been already stated in the account given of the
institution of the Associate Class, constituted a separate body of
six, and were called by the distinguishing title of Associate
Engravers. It may for that reason be convenient to deal
with them all at once before proceeding to the others. The full
number of six was not completed till 1783, only five having
been elected in 1770; and Ravenet, one of them, having died in
1774, the election of Green in 1775 still left the number one
short. As will be seen, some years often elapsed before a
vacancy was filled.

THOMAS MAJOR, A.E.

This eminent engraver was born in 1720, and spent the
early part of his life in Paris, where he engraved several plates
after some of the old Dutch masters. Returning to England, he
executed a number of plates from pictures by contemporary
artists and Old Masters, and in 1770 was elected an Associate

151



152 ASSOCIATES ELECTED UNDER REYNOLDS

Engraver of the Royal Academy, being the first to receive that
honour. He was also for many years seal engraver to the king.
He died in 1799.

SIMON FRANCOIS RAVENET, A.E.

Born in Paris in 1706. After gaining considerable reputa-
tion as an engraver in his native country, he came to England,
invited, it is said, by Hogarth, about 1750, and was largely
employed by booksellers and in engraving pictures by the Old
Masters, and also portraits by Reynolds and others. He was
elected an Associate Engraver in 1770, and died in 1774.

PIERRE CHARLES CANOT, A.E.

Also a Frenchman, born about 1710. He came to England in
1740, and engraved a large number of landscapes and sea-pieces
by old and modern masters, among them the well-known views
of London Bridge and Westminster Bridge by Scott. He was
elected an Associate Engraver in 1770, and died in 1777.

JOHN BROWNE, A.E.,

was born at Finchingfield in Essex in 1741. He was the son of
a Norfolk clergyman, and was educated at Norwich. When
fifteen years old he was sent to London as apprentice to John
Tierney, and had William Woollett for a fellow-pupil. He soon
reached eminence in his art, and an engraving of Salvator Rosa's
picture, " St John preaching in the Wilderness," exhibited in 1768,
brought him greatly into notice. Two years afterwards he was
elected an Associate Engraver. His chief works are landscapes
after the Old Masters. He died in 1801.

THOMAS CHAMBERS, A.E.

Born in London about 1724. He engraved several large
plates for Alderman Boydell, and most of the portraits in



VALENTINE GREEN 153

Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting. But though at one time he
had plenty of employment, and was one of the Associate
Engravers elected in 1770, he was not prosperous, and being in
distress for money, drowned himself in the Thames in 1789.

VALENTINE GREEN, A.E.

A very eminent engraver, who may be said to have shared
with M'Ardell and Earlom the credit of being the most cele-
brated exponents of reproduction in mezzotint of the eighteenth
century. He was born at Halesowen, near Birmingham, in
1739, and was intended for a lawyer ; but after two years in an
office at Evesham in Worcestershire, he abandoned the law and
became pupil to a line engraver in Worcester. Thence in
1765 he came to London, and without any instructor began
scraping in mezzotint, in which style he reached an excellence
which has seldom been attained. His two large plates of West's
" Return of Regulus to Carthage " and " Hannibal swearing
Enmity to the Romans," were the first of that size and impor-
tance that had appeared. Several of his best prints are after
Reynolds 'and West, but he also engraved many of the works of
the Old Masters, among them Rubens' " Descent from the Cross "
at Antwerp, and twenty-two of the pictures in the Diisseldorf
Gallery, the exclusive privilege of reproducing which had been
given him by the Duke of Bavaria in 1789 with the title of
" Court Engraver." Unfortunately, the gallery was demolished
during the siege of the city by the French in 1798, and Green's
prints destroyed. In 1775 he was elected an Associate Engraver
of the Academy. On the foundation of the British Institution
in 1805 he was appointed keeper, and was very instrumental
in promoting its success. The total number of engravings
executed by him during the forty years of his activity is said to
be about 400. His death took place in 1813.



154 ASSOCIATES ELECTED UNDER REYNOLDS



FRANCIS HAWARD, A.E.,

an engraver in both mezzotint and stipple, was born in 1759.
He became a student at the Academy in 1776, and was
elected an Associate Engraver in 1783. His earlier works in
mezzotint comprised portraits after Reynolds, and fancy pieces
by W. Hamilton and Angelica Kauffman, and among his
later ones in stipple were " Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse,"
" The Infant Academy," and " Cymon and Iphigenia." He
died in 1797.

JOSEPH COLLYER, A.E.,

was born in London in 1748, and after being a pupil of Anthony
Walker, entered the schools of the Royal Academy in 1771.
He was very successful as a book illustrator, and by his
engravings after works by Reynolds, Wheatley, and others, took
a high rank in his profession. He was elected an Associate
Engraver in 1786, and afterwards became portrait engraver to
Queen Charlotte. He died in 1827.

JAMES HEATH, A.E.

James Heath was a line engraver of considerable dis-
tinction. Born in London in 1757, he became a pupil
of Collyer's at an early age, and no doubt derived
from that master's instruction a considerable portion of the
skill which distinguished his style. His early works were
chiefly portraits, but he subsequently took to book illus-
tration, in which he was very successful, his rendering of
Stothard's designs especially being considerably in advance of
anything hitherto done in that line, and considerably increasing
the reputation of both artists. He engraved some small plates
after Smirke, and also executed several large plates, among
which perhaps the best known are " The Death of Major



JAMES HEATH 155

Pierson" after J. S. Copley, R.A., "The Death of Nelson"
after B. West, P.R.A., "General Washington" after Stuart.
He was elected an Associate Engraver in 1791, and was sub-
sequently appointed engraver to the king. He died in 1834.

We now come to the other Associates elected during
Reynolds' presidency who never reached the higher honour of
Academician. The first of these was



EDWARD STEVENS, A.,

an architect. He was a pupil of Sir William Chambers and
a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists. He began
exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1770, and was elected
an Associate in the same year. Among his drawings were
designs for the Royal Exchange at Dublin, and for numerous
private mansions. He died at Rome in 1775.



GEORGE JAMES, A.,

a portrait painter. He was born in London, and went at an
early age to Rome to study Art, and subsequently practised
his profession in London and at Bath. A member of the
Incorporated Society of Artists, he was elected an Associate
of the Royal Academy in 1770, being the first painter so
elected, and exhibited there for many years chiefly portraits
but occasionally subject pictures. He was, however, independent
of his profession, having inherited property, and also married
a rich wife, and his works were, as is generally the case under
such circumstances, of no great merit. On the other hand, Red-
grave says of him that he was a bon vivant, a clever comic
singer, and a good mimic. He died in 1795 at Boulogne,
where he had gone to reside, from the effects of imprisonment
during the Reign of Terror.



156 ASSOCIATES ELECTED UNDER REYNOLDS



ELIAS MARTIN, A.,

was born in Sweden in 1740. Thirty years after he came to
England and was admitted a student in the Academy schools. He
also contributed to the Exhibition in the same year a " View of
Westminster Bridge, with the King of Denmark's Procession."
He was elected an Associate in 1770, and continued exhibiting a
variety of pictures, portraits, subjects, and landscapes in both oil
and water-colours. In 1780 he returned to Denmark and ceased
exhibiting, but appears to have come back to England, as in
1790 his name, with an address at Bath, appears in the catalogue
attached to eight works. After that nothing was heard of him.
His name continued to be included in the annual list of
members till 1832. Redgrave says that he died in 1804.
Others give the date as 1818.



ANTONIO ZUCCHI, A.,

was one of the numerous foreign artists who in the middle of
the eighteenth century found more scope for their talents in
England than in their own country. Born at Venice in 1726, he
followed the example of his father Francesco and his grand-
father Andrea in becoming an artist, studying especially archi-
tectural drawing and perspective. The brothers Adam, the
architects, when travelling in Italy, made his acquaintance and
persuaded him to come to England, where he decorated many
of their finest buildings. He was elected an Associate in 1770,
but his name only appears on three or four occasions as an
exhibitor. The subjects both for his pictures and his decora-
tions were taken from poetry and mythology with ruined
temples and classical buildings. His chief title to fame is that
he married Angelica Kauffman in 1781, but the marriage was
not a success. He died at Rome in 1795.



WILLIAM PARS 157



MICHAEL ANGELO ROOKER, A.,

was the son of Edward Rooker, who had a considerable repu-
tation as an engraver of architectural views, and also pos-
sessed another talent, being deemed the best harlequin of his
time, and often appearing in that character at Drury Lane
Theatre. Michael Angelo was born in London in 1743. He
was first instructed by his father in the art of engraving, and
subsequently studied at the St Martin's Lane Academy, as well
as receiving lessons from Paul Sandby in landscape painting-
In 1769 he entered the schools of the Academy, and was elected
an Associate in 1770. His contributions to the Exhibition were
chiefly water-colour views of great delicacy and finish, in which
the figures and animals are well introduced. He is perhaps
best known by the views of the Colleges at Oxford, which he
drew and engraved for many years as headings to the Oxford
Almanac. At one time he was principal scene painter to the
Haymarket Theatre. His death took place in 1801.

WILLIAM PARS, A.,

born in London in 1742, received his first instruction in art at
Shipley's drawing school in the Strand, going thence to the St
Martin's Lane Academy, and becoming a student at the Royal
Academy on its opening in 1769. He had previously, in 1764,
been attached by the Dilettanti Society as draughtsman to the
expedition sent by it to make researches among the antiquities
in Ionia ; and on his return accompanied the second Lord
Palmerston on a tour through Italy and Switzerland, making
many drawings, several of which were reproduced in aquatint by
Paul Sandby. In 1770 he was elected an Associate of the
Royal Academy; and in 1774 was selected by the Dilettanti
Society as the recipient of the studentship which they had
resolved to bestow on some artist to enable him to complete his



158 ASSOCIATES ELECTED UNDER REYNOLDS

studies at Rome. Pars went to Rome in 1775, and remained
there till he died in 1782. The works he exhibited at the
Academy consisted chiefly of portraits, most of them small whole
lengths, and drawings of ruined temples in Greece and Asia
Minor.

NICHOLAS THOMAS BALL, A.,

another foreigner who found his artistic haven in England. He
was a native of Denmark, settling in London about 1760. In
1768 he obtained the first premium of the Society of Arts for
landscape painting, and in 1771 was elected an Associate. His
chief occupation was as scene painter at Covent Garden
Theatre, but he contributed several landscapes to the Academy
Exhibitions, chiefly views of Yorkshire. He died in 1777.

BIAGIO REBECCA, A.,

of Italian extraction certainly, but where born in 1735 is not
known. He entered the Academy Schools in 1769, and was
elected an Associate in 1771, in which year he exhibited a
picture of " Hagar and Ishmael," and in the next year " A
Sacrifice to Minerva." He then ceased to exhibit for many
years, being chiefly employed in the ornamentation of stair-
cases and ceilings. Some of the rooms of the Academy at
Somerset House were decorated by him, and he was also em-
ployed at Windsor Castle. He died in 1808.

WILLIAM TOMKINS, A.,

born in London about 1730. He obtained a landscape premium
from the Society of Arts in 1763, and was elected an Associate
in 1771. His contributions to the Academy Exhibitions, which
began in 1769 and continued every year until his death, consisted
chiefly of landscapes with birds and dead game. He also painted
views of noblemen's and gentlemen's seats, some of which are



EDWARD EDWARDS 159

engraved, besides making copies after Claude, Hobbema, and
other Dutch masters. He died in 1792.



STEPHEN ELMER, A.

The date of this artist's birth is not known, but his name is
included in the list of members of the Free Society of Artists in
1763. He first contributed to the Academy Exhibition in 1772,
when he sent nine pictures, and was elected an Associate in the
same year. From that time his name is found in the catalogue
every year till his death. His subjects were dead game and
still life, which he painted with great truth to nature, and in a
bold and spirited style. Three years after his death, which took
place in 1796 at Farnham, where he had lived all his life
and followed the occupation of a maltster, an exhibition of
his works was made by his nephew for sale at the great room
of the Haymarket. This exhibition, which was called " Elmer's
Sporting Exhibition," contained 148 works, many of which
realised very good prices. Many of the unsold ones were des-
troyed by fire in 1801.

EDWARD EDWARDS, A.,

the son of a chairmaker and carver, born in Castle Street,
Leicester Square, in 1738. He became a student at the St
Martin's Lane Academy, and a member of the Incorporated
Society of Artists, but resigned his membership in 1770, exhibit-
ing at the Academy in 1771, and being elected an Associate in
1773. He had previously entered the Academy schools as a
student in 1769. His exhibited works, which consisted chiefly
of Scriptural and Classic subjects with portraits and landscapes
were of no great merit, but he succeeded on three occasions in
gaining premiums from the Society of Arts for drawing, historical
painting, and landscape respectively. In 1788 he was elected
Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy in succession to



160 ASSOCIATES ELECTED UNDER REYNOLDS

Samuel Wale, and published a treatise on the subject in 1803.
Another literary venture of his which contains a good deal of
interesting information about art and artists in this country at
the beginning of the reign of George III. is Anecdotes of Painters,
intended as a continuation of Walpole's work. He died in 1806.

WILLIAM PARRY, A.,

the son of a celebrated blind Welsh harper, to whom he was
born in London in 1742. His first instruction in Art was received
at Shipley's Drawing School in the Strand, whence he went to
the St Martin's Lane Academy, and afterwards, on their
opening, to the Royal Academy schools. He was also a pupil
of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who considered him an artist of con-
siderable promise. In 1770, through the liberality of Sir Watkin
Williams Wynn, he was enabled to visit Italy, remaining there
till 1775, when he returned to England, and in 1776 exhibited
several full and half length portraits at the Academy, being
elected an Associate in the same year. Not meeting, however,
with the encouragement he expected, he went back to Rome in
1779, and stayed there till driven back by ill-health to England
in 1791, dying in London soon after his arrival. There is a
small etching of his for a benefit concert of his father's, repre-
senting the latter playing on the harp.

JOHN HAMILTON MORTIMER, A.,

was born at Eastbourne, Sussex, in 1741. His father sent him
as a pupil to Hudson, but he soon left him and sought out
Pine, the portrait painter; he also frequented the Duke of
Richmond's gallery, where he drew under the guidance of
Cipriani and Moser, but he does not appear to have followed the
fashion of his time, and to have betaken himself to Italy to finish
his education.

At the outset he painted historical subjects, but after his



JOHN HAMILTON MORTIMER 161

marriage he seems to have relinquished them, with other dis-
sipations to which he had before been addicted ; and, retiring to
Aylesbury, painted pictures with a moral tendency. In 1778
he returned to London, having in the early part of that year
been elected an Associate, in spite of the fact that he had never
exhibited at the Academy, and he would have been speedily
raised to the full honour, but for his untimely death, which
occurred in February, 1779. He was buried at High Wycombe,
in Bucks, and a large picture by him of " St Paul preaching to
the Britons" used to hang in the parish church, but is now
in the Guildhall, of that town. There is an excellent picture by
him belonging to the Royal Academy, containing portraits of
himself, J. Wilton, R.A., and a lad who used to sweep out the
apartments of the Academy at Somerset House. It is well
drawn and ably and solidly painted, but the colouring is rather
harsh and inclined to blackness, and in fact, throughout it lacks
that indescribable something, that compound of sharpness and
softness, of suavity and translucency, which are the sign manual
of the true painter.

JAMES NIXON, A.,

a portrait and miniature painter of some repute in his day,
born about 1741. He was one of the first to enter the schools
of the Royal Academy, and sent his first contribution to the
Exhibition in 1772, becoming an Associate in 1778. It was
at one time very much the fashion to sit to him, and he received
a good deal of court patronage, being limner to the Prince
Regent and miniature painter to the Duchess of York. He
died at Tiverton in 1812.



HORACE HONE, A.,

an Irishman, the son of Nathaniel Hone, the Academician,
who, as already related (p. 34) got himself into trouble with
his brethren over his picture of " The Conjuror," in which he

L



162 ASSOCIATES ELECTED UNDER REYNOLDS

was supposed to have insulted Reynolds and Angelica Kauff-
man. Horace, the son, was born about 1755. He seems to
have practised in both oils and water-colours, but soon came
into fashion as a miniature painter, and began exhibiting at the
Academy in 1772. In 1779 he was elected an Associate. Some
years afterwards he went to Dublin and practised his profession
there with great success. Appointed miniature painter to the
Prince of Wales in 1795, he returned to London, and continued
in considerable vogue up to the time of his death in 1825.

GEORGE STUBBS, A.

Although he practised what must be considered an inferior
branch of the art of painting, George Stubbs achieved a per-
manent reputation, and solicitous Fame still bears him aloft
upon her trembling pinions. If we place him alongside his
contemporary, James Barry, and contrast the inflated utter-
ances, the bumptious life, and ambitious art of the one with the
unassuming industry of the other, we cannot but chuckle and
rejoice in the irony of fate which has so completely reversed
their reputations. What a lively pleasure is felt by every lover
of Art when, in some chance visit to a town or country mansion,
his eyes light upon a picture by Stubbs ! It may represent a
shooting-party counting their game, or my lord and his lady
driving in their phaeton in the park, or it may only be a portrait
of a dog or racehorse ; it is always admirable, clear and rich in
colouring, accurate in drawing, and firm and spirited in its
touch. It is Art, Art ennobling and beautifying, and Midas-like,
converting everything it touches into gold.

This fine artist was born in Liverpool in 1724 ; he studied in
Rome, and afterwards settled in London, where he died in 1806.
He published a valuable work on the Anatomy of the Horse,
the original drawings for which are preserved in the library of
the Royal Academy; they are remarkable for their care and
their firmness and precision.



GEORGE STUBBS 163

Stubbs was elected an Associate in November 1780, and an
Academician in February 1781. But as he did not comply
with the law requiring the deposit of a diploma work, and sent
no explanation of his failure to do so, his -place was declared
vacant in 1783, and he consequently never received his diploma
nor signed his name on the roll of Academicians.

JOSEPH WRIGHT, A.

Joseph Wright, commonly styled "of Derby," probably to
distinguish him from a marine painter, Richard Wright of
Liverpool, whose picture of " The Fishery " engraved by Woollett
has sometimes been attributed to Joseph Wright, was born there
in 1734. He was also a pupil of Hudson's, and subsequently
visited Rome. In 1777 he settled in Derby and remained there
until his death in 1797. A small collection of Wright's pictures
exhibited by the Royal Academy in the Old Masters' Exhibi-
tion of 1886 was the means of making the public better ac-
quainted with his talent, as before that time, his works not being
much traded in, and moreover being for the most part in private
collections in and about his native town, few were able to form a
just conception of either the scope or the quality of his art. His
portraits are firmly and vigorously painted in what is called a
manly style, but they exhibit a certain hardness, which is
observable also in those of Hudson, whether imbibed from him
or not we cannot say. The style, or mannerism, as we should
prefer to call it, for which he was celebrated, was the representa-
tion of candle and firelight. There is an example in the
National Gallery, " An experiment with an Air Pump," and
several were exhibited at the Royal Academy. These things
are more calculated to excite surprise than to give pleasure, and
Wright of Derby had not the imagination of Rembrandt, which
was able to fill the dark recesses of his pictures with interest
and suggestiveness ; with the former they are merely black
holes, with the latter they are like caverns in which we seem



164 ASSOCIATES ELECTED UNDER REYNOLDS

to see weird and gloomy shapes cowering and hiding them-
selves.

Wright's admirers have sought to enhance his reputation by
making much of the differences between him and the Academy,
but an impartial examination of the facts of the case hardly
warrants the assertion that he was badly treated by that body.
He first exhibited at the Academy in 1778, having entered the
schools in 1775, and gained a Silver Medal there ; and was
elected an Associate on 5th November 1781, receiving 14 votes
out of 19. On 7th December the Secretary reported to the
Council that he had acquainted Mr Wright with his election as
an Associate, but had received no answer ; and on 7th January
1782, a letter was read from him thanking the Academy for
having chosen him an Associate, and mentioning that he should
most probably be in town at the Exhibition. On 26th March
in the same year, he asked the Council for " indulgence " for his
two pictures, meaning that he should have leave to send them in
after the specified date, which was granted. On nth October,
nothing having been heard of him in the meantime, the
Secretary was instructed to write to Mr Wright, and, that there
might be no further delay in his signing the Obligation or Roll
of Institution as an Associate, a copy of it was ordered to be
sent to him for signature. This brought the following letter to



Online LibraryJ. E. (John Evan) HodgsonThe Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 → online text (page 14 of 35)