J. E. (John Evan) Hodgson.

The Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 online

. (page 25 of 35)
Online LibraryJ. E. (John Evan) HodgsonThe Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 → online text (page 25 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

opposition at the commencement of his career. He was born
at Lincoln in 1786, and his father, who was a portrait painter in
that town, seems to have arranged that his son should become
an artist from the first, preparing and teaching him as carefully
as he possibly could. Thus it was that young Hilton made an
early start. At the age of fourteen he became a pupil of
Raphael Smith, the mezzotint engraver, and in 1 806 entered the
Academy schools.

Hilton's ambition from first to last seems to have been to
excel in what was termed " the high historic style of painting."
His subjects were always of the kind that are usually selected
for the highest competitions in Schools of Art, such, for instance,
as ".Cephalus and Procris," " Ulysses and Calypso," " The
Good Samaritan," " Raising of Lazarus," with occasionally
selections from Spenser and Shakespeare. Unhappily, he had
not sufficient vigour or originality in his style of painting to


overcome the lack of interest which the patrons of art of his
day felt for works of this high historic school, so that very many
of his pictures remained in his possession until his death. His
pictures were, however, very acceptable in the yearly exhibi-
tions, and he was elected an Associate in 1813, and a Royal
Academician in 1819, his diploma work being "The Rape of
Ganymede." When Thomson, who succeeded Fuseli as
Keeper of the Royal Academy, resigned that office at the end
of 1827, Hilton was unanimously chosen to succeed him, and no
one could have been found better qualified to fill the post. He
was greatly liked and respected by the students, and received
from them a valuable piece of plate as a token of their regard.
They also purchased after his death and presented to the
National Gallery his picture of " Sir Calepine rescuing Serena."

His health broke down in 1836, and he died at the house of
his brother-in-law, P. Dewint, the water-colour painter, on the
3Oth December 1839.

It has been said that it was the lack of patronage which
Hilton met with that first suggested to Sir Francis Chantrey
the idea of making his celebrated " Bequest " ; if so, it is remark-
able that the first picture purchased under that Bequest should
have been one of Hilton's large works, " Christ crowned with


Abraham Cooper, born in 1787, was the son of a tobacconist
in Red Lion Street, Holborn. The tobacco shop proving
unsuccessful, the father, who appears to have been a bad
manager, tried keeping an inn at Holloway, but with no
better fortune, and as a consequence young Cooper had to
be taken away from school when only thirteen, and some
money-earning occupation found for him. A congenial one
presented itself at Astley's Theatre, then under the manage-
ment of his uncle, Mr Davis, and he spent some years there
as an assistant in the equestrian battles and pageants. His



leisure hours were occupied in making sketches of horses, and
in 1809, without any instruction, he succeeded in painting
a portrait of a horse named " Frolic," belonging to Sir Henry
Meux, who bought the picture, and afterwards became a liberal
patron of the artist.

From this time, Cooper took to painting as a profession,
especially the painting of horses ; and numerous pictures of this
class, including portraits of the principal racehorses of the day,
came from his brush.

He was elected an Associate in 1817, and Academician
in 1820. His portraits of horses would never of themselves
have gained him admission to the membership of the Academy;
it was the great success which attended the exhibition of several
battle pieces by his hand, such as the " Battle of Waterloo," for
which he was awarded a premium of one hundred guineas from
the British Institution, and " Marston Moor," with others, that
gained him the honour. Cavalry charges, in which a black
and a white horse generally figured in contrast, were the
subjects which he may be justly said to have made his own ;
these pictures, though on a small scale, were highly finished,
spirited in action and correctly drawn, but poor in colour.
Some of the illustrations to the author's edition of the Waverley
Novels are the work of his hand.

Abraham Cooper's picturesque and venerable head was well-
known to the students of the Academy as visitor during the last
years in which the Royal Academy occupied the premises in
Trafalgar Square. He exhibited a great deal of shrewd common
sense in conversation, and he was generally called by his
brother members " Horse Cooper," in order to distinguish him
from the well-known painter of cattle, Thomas Sidney Cooper,
R.A. For some years before his death, which occurred at
Greenwich on 24th December 1868, Cooper was in distressed
circumstances, and numerous grants were made to him by the
Academy from 1857 until 1866, when he applied to be placed
on the list of Honorary Retired Academicians.



Besides being a painter and picture dealer, Collins's father,
who was a native of Wicklow, was something of an author,
having published a novel called The Memoirs of a Picture, a
poem on the Slave Trade, and a Life of George Morland.
Young Collins was born in Great Titchfield Street, London, in
1788. As a child he showed a great aptitude for and love of
drawing, and he had the good fortune, through his father's
intimacy with George Morland, to obtain that gifted, but
eccentric, painter's advice in his studies. Though in after life
he did not himself think he had gained much practical advantage
from this instruction, his admiration for Morland's style,
together with the success that attended his friend Wilkie's early
pictures, no doubt very much influenced him in his determination
to select for the subjects of his pictures, scenes and episodes of
rustic life, in the portrayal of which he afterwards so much
distinguished himself.

Collins was admitted a student of the Royal Academy in
January 1807, and in the same year sent two small views of
Millbank to the exhibition. In 1809 he was awarded a silver
medal for a drawing from the life. He then became a regular
exhibitor both at the British Institution and at the Royal
Academy, among his first early subject-pictures being " Boys at
Breakfast" and "Boys with a Bird's Nest." His father's death
in 1812 left young Collins the responsibility of having to
support his mother and brother, and he seems to have exerted
himself bravely under the trial ; for in the same year he made a
great success with his picture, " The Sale of the Pet Lamb," a
subject very likely suggested by his having had to dispose of
the furniture and other household effects in order to pay off his
father's debts. In 1814 his picture, "Bird Catchers," gained
him his election as an Associate, and it was soon after this that
he added to the range of his subjects those taken from fisher-


men's haunts and habits on the coast, subjects which he treated
with much sweetness and ability, especially with regard to the
atmospheric effects ; it is more than likely that on the pictures
of this class, too numerous to mention, his future fame will
chiefly rest.

But though both industrious and successful, his pecuniary
affairs at this time were in a very unsatisfactory state. An
entry in his diary in 1816 states that he is making it on "a
dreary, black-looking April day, with one sixpence in my
pocket, seven hundred pounds in debt, shabby clothes, a fine
house, and large book of my own handiwork." From this
position, however, he was extricated by the liberality of Sir
Thomas Heathcote, who advanced the means of going to
Hastings, where he first began those sea subjects which after-
wards proved so successful. In 1820 he was chosen an Acade-
mician, having missed his election the year before by one vote
against Hilton, and from that period enjoyed an uninterrupted
career of success in the branch of art which he had chosen.
Urged thereto by Sir David Wilkie, and no doubt desirous of
varying his subjects, he went, in 1837, to Italy, and remained
there for two years. The result was seen in the many pictures
of Italian life and scenery which came from his brush after his
return to England. But neither these, nor those of religious
subjects which are found among his later works, can be said to
have added to his reputation. Before his death, however, he
returned to the seashore subjects, for which he had most
sympathy, and to the end there was no falling off in his
powers, his last picture, " Early Morning," being one of his most

It was in Italy that, by imprudently sketching in the noon-
day sun, he laid the foundation of the disease of the heart which
eventually caused his death. The last years of his life were
passed in much suffering, and his death took place in London
on the I /th of February 1847, at the comparatively early age of
fifty-eight. The total number of works exhibited by Collins


at the Royal Academy and the British Institution was one
hundred and sixty-nine. Several of his pictures are in the
National Collection : " The Shrimpers," " Happy as a King,"
" The Stray Kitten," " Rustic Civility," and some Italian scenes
as well.

In 1822 he married the daughter of Andrew Geddes, A., by
whom he had two sons, the elder, William Wilkie Collins, the
well-known novelist, who wrote an interesting life of his father,
and the younger, Charles Allston Collins, one of the earliest
followers of the pre-Raphaelite school.

Collins was elected Librarian of the Royal Academy in
1840, in succession to George Jones, but resigned in 1842 in
consequence of the increased hours of attendance in the Library
required by the Council.



WITH Collins, the list of Academicians elected during the
Presidency of West ends, and it now remains to notice those
artists who, during the same period, joined the ranks of the
Academy as Associates, but never reached the higher honour.
They were fifteen in number nine painters, one architect, and
five engravers. In saying that they never reached the higher
honour, it is not intended to imply that their failure to do so
arose from want of sufficient merit in their works. The five
engravers were never eligible for the full honours of the institu-
tion ; the law which limited engravers to the Associateship not
having been altered until after the last of these five were dead.
Of the other ten, one at least, Washington Allston, an American,
would without doubt have been elected an Academician, if he
had not quitted England for his native country in 1818, the year
in which he was elected an Associate, and as he never returned,
and ceased contributing to the annual exhibitions, he may fairly
be considered to have voluntarily forfeited his claims to the
more coveted distinction.


This artist, who was born in Devonshire in the middle of the
eighteenth century, came to London at an early age, and after
studying under Benjamin West for a short time entered in 1769
the Academy schools. He chiefly maintained himself by paint-


ing portraits and miniatures, in which branch of the profession
he displayed considerable skill. But his contributions to the
exhibitions also included fancy subjects of various character,
such as " The Death of Lucretia," " Fair Rosamund," and others ;
these, however, found few purchasers in his lifetime, the main bulk
of them remaining unsold at his death. In 1795 he was elected an
Associate and subsequently practised his profession as a portrait
painter in various parts of England. A great many portraits
by him are to be found in country houses ; they are chiefly chalk
and pencil drawings. He died at Wrexham in 1824.


Anker Smith was one of the clever line engravers to whom
we owe the beautiful little illustrations which adorn the books
published during the closing years of the eighteenth and the
commencing ones of the nineteenth centuries. He was born in
Cheapside in 1759, and educated at Merchant Taylor's School.
On the recommendation of James Heath, Smith, when quite
young, quitted an attorney's office and took lessons in line
engraving ; after which, for several years, he worked for Heath,
many of the plates which bear Heath's name being in reality
the work of his assistant. Anker Smith is at his best in his
plates for Bell's British Poets, the British TJieatre, Smirke's
Don Quixote, and for Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery.
These works were executed between 1787 and 1797, and
obtained for him his election in the last-named year as an
Associate-Engraver. His larger works after Titian, Carracci,
and Leonardo da Vinci, though carefully executed, have
scarcely the delicacy that characterises his book-illustrations.
His death took place in 1819.


Though, apparently, a man of versatile talents, contributing
both paintings and sculptures to the annual exhibitions for many


years, not much is known of this artist. Born in 1760, he
became at eighteen the pupil of Sawrey Gilpin, and entered the
Academy schools in 1778. Dogs, horses, and other animals
formed the subjects of his pictures ; and his sculptures were
bas-reliefs, busts, and monuments. He exhibited specimens of
all these works at the Academy and was elected an Associate
in 1800. He died at Brompton in 1826.


Fittler, who was born in London in 1758 was, like Heath
and Smith, employed greatly on book-illustration ; he, however,
distinguished himself in works on a larger scale, and is perhaps
best known for his fine plates from Loutherbourg's pictures of
" The Battle of the Nile " and " Lord Howe's Victory." Fittler's
work in these plates suffers only when compared with Woollett's
matchless " Battle of La Hogue." Fittler entered the Academy
schools in 1778, and was elected an Associate- Engraver in 1800.
He also held the appointment of engraver to the king. He
executed little or no work after 1822, and died in 1835.


Joseph Gandy, the only architect added to the list of the
Associates during West's Presidency, was born in 1771. He
was a pupil of James Wyatt, and in 1789 entered the Academy
schools, where in the following year he gained the gold medal
with a design for a " Triumphal Arch." He subsequently
studied in Rome, and on his return to England was much
employed by Sir John Soane. Elected an Associate in 1803,
he seemed to have a successful career before him, but though
his designs and drawings display great beauty and fertility of
invention, and his taste was appreciated by his fellow-artists,
unfortunately Gandy, who was odd and impracticable in dis-
position, had not the social qualities which are an important


requisite to architectural success. As a consequence of this
defect very few of his designs were carried into execution, and
he fell into straitened circumstances, being compelled to ask
for pecuniary assistance from the Academy. Rendered
morose by poverty and disappointment, Joseph Gandy
led a quiet and retired life in Greek Street, Soho, and died
in 1843.


A portrait painter, born about 1776 a pupil of Opie and
student in 1793 at the Academy who exhibited at times a few
fancy subjects, such as " The Pensive Girl," and " The Lovers,"
from Thomson's Seasons. He was elected an Associate in 1803,
and last exhibited in 1810. The date of his death is unknown,
but as he had long ceased exhibiting, and as it could not be
ascertained whether he was alive or dead, in 1832 his name was
erased from the list of Associates.


The father of the Landseer family was born at Lincoln in
1769. He was the son of a jeweller, and received his first
instruction in the art of engraving from a clever landscape
painter, named John Byrne. The vignettes in Bowyer's History
of England, and Moore's Views in Scotland, published in 1793,
are by John Landseer ; he also executed a series of clever
engravings of animals from pictures by Rubens and Snyders.
One of the first to fight the battle for the admission of
engravers to the full membership of the Academy, he employed
much of his time in controversial literature on the subject ; nor
did his election as an Associate-Engraver, in 1806, prevent him
from continuing to urge their claims. He wrote letters to the
Council on the subject, and was allowed to attend at one of
their meetings and argue the point before them ; but all the


answer he got was that the President and Council "conceive
themselves not empowered to act upon propositions involving
so essential an alteration in the structure of the Establishment
as originally instituted by His Majesty." Nor was the cause,
for which he contended, successful till 1855, three years after
his death. At one time he started a periodical, The Probe,
which, however, failed, as had another similar attempt by
him before. He lived long enough to witness the fame of
his youngest son Edwin, from whose " Dogs of Mount St
Bernard" he made one of his best engravings. John Land-
seer, in his old age, had a venerable and picturesque appear-
ance. He died in 1852, in his ninetieth year, and was buried
in Highgate Cemetery.


Born in 1774, he was admitted a student at the Royal
Academy in 1790 and elected an Associate in 1807. Though at
one time a fashionable portrait painter of considerable merit,
and for many years a constant exhibitor, Oliver's works were
scarcely up to the high standard of excellence which prevailed
at the time in portraiture. He became in his old age embar-
rassed in circumstances, and for a short time was glad to avail
himself of the remuneration he obtained as Curator in the School
of Painting at the Academy to which post he was appointed in
1835. But his health soon failing, he was compelled to rely,
during the last years of his life, on donations from the funds of
the Academy. He died in Bond Street in 1842, a number of
his unfinished portraits and his collection of engravings becom-
ing the property of his landlord in lieu of unpaid rent.


Born in London in 1770, Drummond at the age of fourteen
ran off to sea, and remained away for six years. Having


developed a love for Art, he entered in 1791 soon after his return
the schools of the Royal Academy, and in the same year made
his first appearance at the exhibition. In 1808 he was elected
an Associate. Though Drummond's principal occupation was
portrait painting, he occasionally exhibited subject-pictures,
some of them representing events in naval history, such as
" Admiral Duncan receiving the Sword of Admiral de Winter,"
in Greenwich Hospital. In the National Portrait Gallery are
two of his portraits : one of Sir Isambard Brunei, and the other
a miniature of Mrs Fry. Drummond, like Oliver, seems to have
experienced difficulties of a pecuniary nature in his later years.
He succeeded Oliver as Curator of the Painting School, and
frequently received assistance from the funds of the Academy.
His death occurred in 1844.


A landscape and marine painter born in Berkshire in 1763.
He began life as a domestic servant, but his mistress noticing
he had a talent for Art obtained instruction for him. He became
a pupil of William Pether, and from 1788 contributed regularly
to the exhibition, being elected an Associate in 1810. In 1825
he obtained a British Institution premium of $oo for a "Battle
of the Nile," now in Greenwich Hospital. He died in 1841.


This artist was a younger brother of Richard Westall, R.A.,
and was born at Hertford in 1781. After studying under his
brother he went in 1801, when only nineteen, as draughtsman
with Captain Flinders' Australian expedition. He was eventu-
ally wrecked on a coral-reef on the coast of Australia, and was
picked up by a ship bound for China, where he remained for
some time, afterwards visiting India. Returning to England
for a short time, he subsequently visited Madeira and the West


India Islands, finally settling down at home in 1808. The
pictures and drawings which he made during his travels attracted
considerable attention, from their novelty, and gained him his
election as an Associate in 1812. He had been previously
elected a member of the Water-Colour Society. After his
election his paintings showed considerable deterioration in
quality, and he took to drawing for engravers and to engraving
in aquatint views of English scenery. He died in 1850, from
the effects of an accident.


This artist was a successful and fashionable portrait painter.
Born in 1764, he entered the schools of the Academy in 1784,
and began exhibiting in 1788. Four years later he obtained
the gold medal for his picture " A Scene from Coriolanus," a
success which encouraged him to select subjects of high art for
his pictures. In 1812 he was awarded a premium of one hundred
guineas by the British Institution, for his picture of " The
Procession to Mount Calvary," and in the following year was
elected an Associate. After his election he abandoned the
ambitious line of art which had brought him into notice, for the
more lucrative one of portrait painting. There is a portrait
of Mr Spencer Percival by him in the National Portrait Gallery.
He died in 1 846.


William Ward, the eminent mezzotint engraver was the
elder brother of James Ward, R.A., the animal painter, and was
born in 1766. He was apprenticed to J. R. Smith, and after-
wards became his assistant. Some of his best-known works are
the plates from Morland, who married his sister. He also
engraved several portraits by Reynolds, Jackson, and others.
He was elected an Associate-Engraver in 1814, and also held


the appointment of mezzotint engraver to the Prince Regent
and the Duke of York. His death took place suddenly, of a fit
of apoplexy, at his residence in 1826. Ward's plates are still
greatly admired by collectors, and generally realise high prices.


This distinguished artist was born in South Carolina, U.S.A.,
in 1 779. Both his parents were of good families, and from them
he inherited a considerable patrimony. After completing his
university career at Harvard College, where he graduated with
honours, he came, in 1801, to England, and at once entered the
Royal Academy schools. He went to Paris in 1804, and after-
wards to Rome, returning to America in 1809. Whilst there
he married, and again came to England in 1811, remaining here
for seven years, with the exception of a short visit to Paris with
his friends, Newton and C. R. Leslie, in 1817. During his stay
in England he produced several remarkable works. One of
them " The Dead Man raised by touching Elisha's Bones "
gained the two hundred guineas premium awarded by the
British Institution, and is now in the Academy of Pennsylvania.
This picture is characterised by great imaginative qualities and a
refined sense of colour, as is also his "Jacob's Dream," which
he sent from Boston to the Academy Exhibition in 1819; the
angels being composed and delineated with the utmost grace
and refinement. Allston also painted an admirable portrait of
Coleridge now in the National Portrait Gallery with whom
he was very intimate ; Coleridge being much attracted by
Allston's high culture, and by the poetic imagination which
imbued his works and conversation.

Unfortunately, on the very eve of his election to the
Associateship of the Academy, in 1818, and in despite of the
earnest protestations of his numerous friends in England,
Allston, under a fit of home-sickness, suddenly decided to return
to America, where he remained until his death in 1843. He


produced one or two pictures after his return, but, though they
were of large size and ambitious aim, they scarcely sustained
the reputation of his earlier works : they lingered too long in
the studio, and suffered greatly from repeated alterations and
experiments. He left at his death a large unfinished work,
" Belshazzar's Feast," which is in the Boston Museum, where
there is also a portrait by him of Benjamin West. Allston was
a man of extreme amiability of character, and greatly beloved
by his numerous friends. He wrote at different times a volume

Online LibraryJ. E. (John Evan) HodgsonThe Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 → online text (page 25 of 35)