J. E. (John Evan) Hodgson.

The Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 online

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the Roll of Academicians by proxy, and so be spared the
necessity of coming from Edinburgh for that purpose. His
request was complied with, and a copy of the " Obligation "
was sent to him to sign, and on its return the General Assembly
authorised the President to insert his name on the Roll.

Raeburn had at one time proposed to come South, and set
up his studio in London, but he was dissuaded from this by
Lawrence. Whether alarm at the brilliancy of the Scotsman's
success had anything to do with the tendering of this advice
we cannot say, but at any rate the advice was sound, for in the
North Raeburn had the whole field to himself, whereas in
London, besides Lawrence, there were several other able
portrait, painters already established. The great number of
portraits, by his brush, of eminent Scotsmen, prove that he
found no lack of patronage in his own country. In 1822, on
the visit of George the Fourth to Scotland, he was knighted,
and shortly after was appointed King's Limner for Scotland.


He did not, however, long enjoy these latter honours, for he
died on the 8th of July 1823, in Edinburgh.

Raeburn's portraits are broad and effective in light and
shade, and brilliant in execution ; his colouring is always rich
and harmonious ; his backgrounds are of the conventional type
so much in vogue amongst the successors of Reynolds. Like
many others of his contemporaries, he painted mostly on a
twilled canvas known as " ticking," which accounts for a certain
easy mannerism of execution which is found in his less carefully
painted works.

Though always enjoying a high reputation in Scotland,
Raeburn's portraits were not so well known south of the Tweed,
and it is only within the last thirty years that they have gained
for their author, in general estimation, the rank as a painter to
which he was entitled. A collection of 325 portraits by him,
exhibited in Edinburgh in 1876, first attracted attention, and
in 1877 some of his best works were shown at the Royal
Academy Winter Exhibition. Since then he has very much
risen in public esteem, but whether he deserves to rank with
Reynolds and Gainsborough, as some of his latest biographers

assert, is open to question.



William Mulready was born at Ennis, County Clare, in 1786.
He came with his parents to England when about six years old,
and soon showed considerable aptitude for drawing. Some of
his boyish sketches having met with the approval of Banks the
sculptor, he determined to adopt the profession of an artist, and
when only fourteen years old entered the schools of the Royal
Academy, where he made very satisfactory progress, supporting
himself by drawing illustrations for a series of children's books,
and giving lessons in drawing, one of his pupils being Miss
Isabella Milbanke, afterwards Lady Byron. He first exhibited
at the Royal Academy, "The Crypt in Kirkstall Abbey," in


1804, when only eighteen years old ; and eleven years later, on
6th November 1815, was elected an Associate, his promotion to
the rank of R.A. following three months afterwards, on loth
February 1816. Such a rapid rise had never, nor has it since,
occurred in the Academy. His principal works at this time
were "Boys Fishing," "The Fight Interrupted," and "The
Village Buffoon/' his diploma work.

Mulready was always a very faithful and devoted member,
subordinating his own private and personal interests to his
professional duties. Himself devoted to study, he may truly be
said to have been always a student, for throughout his long life
he served the office of visitor (or teacher) in the Life Class
almost every year, taking his seat beside the students, and mak-
ing very elaborate and careful drawings in black and red chalk.

Although an Irishman by birth, Mulready possessed few of
the well-known characteristics of his fellow-countrymen ; he was
neither bold, dashing, witty, affable, reckless, social, or quarrel-
some ; on the contrary, he was quiet, patient, and industrious,
extremely cautious and guarded in his conversation and conduct,
avoiding carefully every chance of giving offence. Neither was
he distinguished for sociability. The friendly chaff and fun that
went on amongst the members on the varnishing days had no
charms for him, and it was on his motion that these festive
gatherings were, for a time, done away with, bitterly to the
regret of Turner, Chantrey, Stanfield, and others, of a more
affable and jovial character. These so-called varnishing days
were first established in 1809; three or more days, according
to the discretion of the Council, being allowed to members for
varnishing or painting on their pictures. Mulready's motion
was that the Council " consider the propriety of doing away with
the varnishing days, or making such alteration in the present
arrangement as shall equalise the supposed advantages of the
days to exhibitors generally." The Council adopted the first
alternative, the varnishing days were abolished, and a new law
passed merely allowing a member to apply to the Council for


leave to retouch a picture if it had met with an accident, and
then for not more than one day. This self-denying ordinance,
however, did not continue long in force, and in a few years
" one day or more, at the discretion of the Council," was allowed
to members, and one day to non-members.

Of Mulready's private life very little is known, for he was a
man who throughout his long life kept himself very much to
himself. When only seventeen he married a sister of the well-
known water-colour painter, John Varley, herself an artist of
some merit ; but the marriage was an unhappy one, and after a
few years they separated.

Mulready was a hard worker, and as his pictures were always
thorough and complete in finish and execution, he seldom failed
to find admirers and purchasers for them. By far the best in
tone and colour of his works were those he executed in the
early years of his membership, when the influence of Wilkie and
of the Dutch painters was strong upon him. The character
and expression of the heads are finer and truer in these com-
paratively early works than in those produced in his later years.
A great number of his pictures are in the National Collections
a fact which is chiefly due to the admiration that muni-
ficent patron Mr Sheepshanks had for them, Among the
more important ones, in addition to those already mentioned,
are: "The Wolf and the Lamb," "Giving a Bite," "The
Whistonian Controversy," and " Choosing the Wedding Gown."

Mulready lived long enough to witness the Pre-Raphaelite
revival, and to his credit was one of those amongst the senior
members of the Academy who first gave encouragement to the
young school by testifying their approbation of the sincerity of
its efforts. His death took place suddenly in 1863.


This artist, descended from a French Protestant family
that had settled in Switzerland, was born at Geneva in the


year 1781. His father came over to England when his family,
consisting of two sons and a daughter, were quite young, and
maintained himself by teaching the French language.

The boys early evinced a strong predilection for Art, and
Alfred, the eldest, became a student at the Royal Academy at
the age of sixteen. He possessed a strong sense of beauty,
and considerable taste and dexterity of execution, and it was
not long before he was able to support himself by painting
ladies' portraits. His success was rapid, and for many years he
was very fashionable in this branch of Art. He was elected an
Associate in 1812 and an Academician in 1816.

He worked principally in water-colour, though from time
to time he exhibited a few subject pictures in oil, amongst
the best of which may be mentioned " Samson and Delilah,"
and "John Knox reproving the Ladies of Queen Mary's Court."
These and other works of a similar character were generally the
outcome of successful sketches made by Chalon at the meetings
of The Sketching Club, of which he and his brother, J. J. Chalon,
may be considered to have been the founders. The meetings of
this club, which included among its members C. R. Leslie, Bone,
Stanfield, Partridge, and others, took place once a month, at the
house of one of the members, on a Friday evening during the
winter half of the year. The sketches, the subject of which was
chosen at the meeting by the host of the evening, were gener-
ally finished in about two hours, and became his property.

Chalon appears to have occasionally tried his hand at other
forms of Art besides oil and water-colour painting, as an entry
in the Council minutes of loth April 1856 states: "Mr A.
E. Chalon having forwarded for exhibition a sculptured hand,
ornamented with jewellery and lace, and called ' Memorials,'
the Council resolved, that though receiving the work for exhibi-
tion, they would not be responsible for any accident or loss,
nor should the exhibition of the present work be made a pre-
cedent for the receipt of similar works in other years." As,
however, no such work is to be found in the catalogue of


1856, either the Council withdrew their permission, or Chalon
his work.

Alfred Chalon will perhaps be best known in the future by
his water-colour portrait of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, which
was painted about the time of her coronation, and beautifully
engraved by Samuel Cousins, R.A., in mezzotint, the plate being
deservedly popular. In person Chalon was tall and picturesque;
he was rather dandified in dress, to the last wearing the caped
cloak with chain and tassels which were in fashion in the days
of Lord Byron. His conversation was brilliant, and he excelled
in witty repartee. He died in 1860 at his house at Campden
Hill, Kensington, in his eightieth year, having survived his
younger brother John by five years.


This distinguished and brilliant portrait painter was the
son of a tailor, and was born at the village of Lastingham,
in Yorkshire, in 1778. He pursued for some time the
occupation of his father, but a sight of the pictures at Castle
Howard is said to have awakened a love for Art, and having
received permission from Lord Carlisle to make studies from
the famous works in the collection, he soon displayed such skill,
especially in a copy that he made of " The Three Maries," by
Carracci, that he attracted the notice of Lord Mulgrave and Sir
George Beaumont, who determined to give him an opportunity
of following Art as a profession. The latter, indeed, behaved
with the greatest kindness to him, giving him the means of
going to London, so that he might be able to enter the
schools of the Royal Academy. He became a student there
in 1805, having already in the previous year exhibited a portrait
of a boy.

Profiting greatly by this liberality, it was not long before
Jackson took his place amongst the principal portrait
painters of the day, and many people of fashion were


among the sitters at his studio, first in the Haymarket,
and afterwards at 34 Great Marlborough Street. His fame
rapidly increased, and on 6th November 1815, he was
elected an Associate ; nor had he long to wait for his full
membership, being advanced to the rank of Academician on
loth February 1817.

In 1819 he visited Rome in company with Sir Francis
Chantrey, and while there painted for him a capital portrait of
Canova. But his finest portrait is that of John Flaxman, which
was a commission from Lord Dover, and of which Lawrence
remarked that it was "a great achievement of the English
School, and a picture of which Vandyke might have felt proud
to call himself the author." He also painted a beautiful portrait
of Lady Dover.

Jackson's art was manly and vigorous. He excelled in the
brilliancy of his colour and execution, qualities which he owed
in great measure to the keen and true appreciation which he
possessed for the fine works of the Old Masters. He employed
almost all his spare time in making studies and copies from these
works, painting with great rapidity and facility. His copies
were always excellent, without being servile ; and those that he
occasionally made from Sir Joshua Reynolds' works have been
considered by competent judges to have fully equalled the
original as to the brilliancy of their quality. He had much
of the facility which distinguished Lawrence, but escaped
the effeminate mannerism which so often marred the
President's work ; and as an instance of his rapidity, he
is said to have once, for a wager, finished five gentlemen's
portraits in a single summer's day and received twenty-
five guineas apiece for them. Between 1804 an d 1830
he exhibited no less than 166 pictures, 144 at the Academy,
and 20 at the British Institution, besides painting many
others. But although the income derived from such an
extensive practice must have been correspondingly large, he
seems to have been unnble to save anything, as he left his


family entirely unprovided for. He was twice married, and
had four children, one by his first wife, and three by his
second, who was a daughter of James Ward, R.A. His death
took place at his house in St John's Wood in 1831.


Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey was born at Norton, near Shef-
field, on the 7th of April 1781. He owed little to his parents in the
matter of Art education, for his father died when he was a child
of eight years old, and his mother, when she married again,
employed him, it is said, to sell milk in the neighbouring town.
A little later he was placed with a grocer, but at the boy's own
desire he was eventually apprenticed to a carver and gilder at
Sheffield. While there he no doubt became an adept at carving
in wood, for Rogers, the poet, had in his possession a carved
sideboard about which he was fond of relating the following
anecdote. On one occasion he had, in company with Chantrey,
visited the workshop where this sideboard was in process of con-
struction ; during the absence of the workman, Chantrey took
up the tools and began working on the carving ; the horror of
the man, Rogers said, when on his return he saw the stranger
thus occupied, was not to be depicted ; but as soon as he noticed
the skill with which Sir Francis handled the tools he lapsed into
silent and reverent admiration.

Chantrey was not satisfied, however, with so limited a branch
of the art, and with some of his own money he purchased the
remainder of his apprenticeship and came to London to study
as a sculptor. Returning to Sheffield in 1802 he appears to
have met with little or no patronage until 1809, when he received
through a friend a commission from an architect named Alex-
ander for four colossal busts of Howe, Nelson, St Vincent, and
Duncan, for the Trinity House and the Greenwich Naval
Asylum. In the same year he married his cousin, Miss Wale,
and the money, 10,000, that he received with her enabled him


to clear himself of debt and establish himself as a sculptor.
Hitherto he had earned a subsistence almost entirely by
portraits in oil, crayon, and miniature, and by occasionally
working as a wood-carver. He had, however, exhibited at the
Academy in 1808 a bust of J. Raphael Smith, with which
Nollekens was so struck that he is reported to have removed
one of his own busts in order to make room for the young man's

From 1809 until his death Chantrey enjoyed an exception-
ally large amount of patronage for sculptured portraits. Busts
were very fashionable during the commencement of the century,
and a list of those executed by him would occupy much space ;
amongst others, his portraits of James Watt, The Earl of
Egremont, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Melbourne,
and Lord Canning, may be mentioned as conspicuous examples
of his power of giving the life and character of his sitters. The
fancy subjects from his hand, though they possess great breadth
and simplicity, are perhaps a trifle heavy and conventional. His
best-known work of this kind is the monument erected in
Lichfield Cathedral to the memory of two daughters of the Rev.
W. Robinson, called "The Sleeping Children," which was
executed, like one or two other works of the same kind, from the
designs of Stothard.

The same criticism, too, applies to his full-length statues,
many examples of which are to be found not only in England
but in India and America. Their conventional and ponder-
ous draperies generally contrast rather ludicrously with the
extremely real and life-like character of the features. In this
respect Chantrey's figure of George IV. in Trafalgar Square
compares to great disadvantage with Wyatt's easy and correctly
costumed figure of George III. in Pall Mall, and especially with
Le Sueur's fine statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross.

Chantrey was elected an Associate on 4th November 1816,
and an Academician on loth February 1818, another instance
of rapid promotion. He presented as his diploma work a bust


of Benjamin West, the President. In 1837 he was appointed a
trustee. During his visit to Italy in 1819 he was made a
member of the Academies of Rome and Florence. His death
took place somewhat unexpectedly on 25th November 1841.
Norton, his birthplace, was also the place of his burial, he being
interred there in a vault constructed by himself. By the terms
of his will the vicar of the parish receives from the trustees an
annuity of 200 ; of which 50 is for five poor men, 50 for five
poor women, 50 for the education of ten poor boys ; and ^50
for the vicar himself on condition that he keeps the tomb of the
donor in good repair.

A genial and kind-hearted man, a delightful host and a
liberal entertainer, Chantrey was very popular amongst his
fellow members, and was always ready to help those less pros-
perous than himself by any means in his power. It is to this
kindly disposition of his that we owe the benefaction of the
celebrated "Chantrey Bequest." He repeatedly lamented seeing
fine works of high aims and meritorious character passing
through the exhibitions without having met with a purchaser,
and declared that he intended by his will to do something to
remedy this unfortunate state of things.

This intention he carried out by leaving the whole of his
property at the death or second marriage of his wife, and subject
to certain annuities, for the "encouragement of British Fine
Art in Painting and Sculpture only." This encouragement was
to be afforded by the purchase, out of the interest of the residue
of the estate, of " Works of Fine Art of the highest merit in
Painting and Sculpture that can be obtained, either already
executed or which may hereafter be executed by artists of any
nation," provided that the work, whether "by a deceased or living
artist, shall have been entirely executed within the shores of
Great Britain." It has often been stated that Chantrey intended
his money to be expended in the purchase of works of high-ideal
aim, which by the nature of their subject or from their size were
not likely to find purchasers. But whatever his intention may


have been there is nothing in the will that admits of any such
interpretation. In another part it says, " preference shall on all
occasions be given to works of the highest merit that can be
obtained, and the prices to be paid for the same shall be liberal."
And again, the President and Council of the Royal Academy, to
whom is entrusted the purchase of the works, " in making their
decision, shall have regard solely to the intrinsic merit of the
work in question and not permit any feeling of sympathy for an
artist or his family by reason of his or her circumstances or
otherwise to influence them." The interest may be allowed to
accumulate for not more than five years. No commissions or
orders for the execution of works are to be given, and the works
purchased are to be publicly exhibited for " one calendar month
at least in the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy or in
some important public exhibition of fine art." The President
and Council of the Royal Academy have full control of the money
to be laid out in purchases, the selection being by a majority of
its members for the time being, the President having one vote
as a member and a casting vote as President. The names
of all members voting for or against a purchase have to be
entered in a book to be open to the inspection of the members of
the Academy and the trustees of the will, of whom there are five,
including ex-officio the President and Treasurer of the Academy.
These trustees receive the interest on the capital bequeathed
and after paying the annuity to the Vicar of Norton, and two
other annuities one of 300 to the President of the Royal
Academy and 50 to the Secretary hand over the remainder
to the President and Council of the Academy for this purpose of
purchasing works of art.

None of these payments, of course, came into effect till after
the death of Lady Chantrey in 1874, but in 1845 the Academy
determined to anticipate Chantrey 's intentions so far as the
President was concerned, and voted the sum of ^"300 a year to
Sir Martin Archer Shee as an acknowledgment of the great
services he had rendered to the Academy during his presidency ;


and to supply to some extent the loss of professional income,
caused by ill-health and his devotion to his academic duties.
The amount was continued after the Chantrey Bequest fell in,
and was subsequently raised during the presidency of Lord
Leighton, to 700 a year, in addition to the Chantrey 300.

To return to that part of the will dealing with the purchase
of works of art. Chantrey proceeds in it to say that it is his
" wish and intention that the works of art so purchased as afore-
said shall be collected for the purpose of forming and establish-
ing a public national collection of British Fine Art in painting and
sculpture executed within the shores of Great Britain, in the con-
fident expectation that whenever the collection shall become, or
be considered, of sufficient importance, the Government or the
Country will provide a suitable and proper building or accommo-
dation for their preservation and exhibition as the property of
the nation free of all charges whatever on my estate." This
object the trustees of the will and the President and Council of
the Royal Academy are to use their best endeavours to carry
into proper effect. But it is expressly directed that no part of
the estate or of the annual income is to be " appropriated in
acquiring any depository or receptacle whatever for the aforesaid
works of art, otherwise than in providing a place of temporary
deposit and security whenever needful and in defraying those
expenses which shall be absolutely required for their necessary
preservation." The trustees and the Academy approached the
Government in 1876 and 1877 with reference to the clause in
the will regarding the housing of the collection, but were met
with the reply that there was "spare room in the National
Gallery for any works of either painting or sculpture which may
be purchased during the next few years." Looking, however, to
the terms of the Bequest, they were of opinion that they would
not be justified in giving up possession of the works without a
distinct assurance that a separate Gallery would be provided
for them.

And so for twenty years " a place of temporary deposit and


security " was found by lending the works to the South Kensing-
ton Museum and to provincial art galleries, who were always
most eager to secure the loan of them. In 1897, thanks to the
munificence of the late Sir Henry Tate in building the National
Gallery of British Art at Millbank, the Government were able
to respond favourably to a renewed application from the trustees
and the Academy, and the eighty-five works in painting and
sculpture purchased up to that date were duly handed over to
the Government, who, on behalf of the nation, accepted them,
and all others to be purchased in the future. A list of the
works purchased up to 1904 109 in all will be found in
Appendix No. VIII.


William Hilton had none of the obstacles and difficulties to
overcome which so frequently beset the path of youthful genius,
and it is possible that a certain insipidity in his otherwise fault-
less compositions may be in some measure due to this lack of

Online LibraryJ. E. (John Evan) HodgsonThe Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 → online text (page 24 of 35)