J. E. (John Evan) Hodgson.

The Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 online

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were painters, one a sculptor, and two architects. Three of the
eight painters are still names to conjure with Leslie, Etty, and
Constable, the last-named especially so, though, perhaps, his
fame now is as much above his deserts as in his lifetime it was
below them. The sculptor and the architects met all the
requirements of an age which was not too exacting in art
matters. Of these eleven Academicians and five Associates
we will now proceed to give some account.


Edward Hodges Baily was born at Bristol in 1788.
His father was a carver of figureheads for ships, and quite
at the top of his profession in that now almost obsolete
branch of Art. The son was at first placed in a merchant's
counting-house, but his natural taste for Art soon induced him
to abandon this uncongenial occupation, and he soon achieved
considerable local fame as a modeller of portraits in wax. An
introduction to Flaxman having been obtained for him, he went



to London, where, as assistant to that sculptor and as a student
at the Royal Academy, he made very rapid progress in his art.
Entering the school in 1809, he gained a silver medal in the
same year, and the gold medal for sculpture in 1811. In 1817,
at the early age of twenty-five, he was elected an Associate of
the Royal Academy, and in the following year produced his
celebrated " Eve at the Fountain," a figure which obtained
great popularity, combining as it did the simplicity of Flaxman
with the smooth prettiness of Canova.

Baily, like his master, Flaxman, did a quantity of work for
the silversmiths, but his fame chiefly rests on his monumental
and imaginative works, of which there are a very large number.
Among the chief of these may be mentioned the colossal statue
of Nelson on the monument in Trafalgar Square, the statues of
Charles James Fox and Lord Mansfield at Westminster, and of
Earl St Vincent, Sir Astley Cooper, and others in St Paul's,
" Eve listening to the Voice," and " The Graces Seated." He
also executed the bas-reliefs on the Marble Arch which then
stood in front of Buckingham Palace.

Baily's talents soon gained him a wide reputation, and in
1821 he was elected an Academician at the early age of thirty-
three ; but though for many years he was in the front rank of
his profession he never succeeded in attaining affluence ; indeed,
so extravagant and careless was he that already, in 1837, he
was obliged to apply to the Royal Academy for assistance. As
work failed him his necessities became more urgent, and in
1858, he was placed on the pension list, besides being granted
on two occasions a charitable donation. He was the first to
avail himself of the law passed in 1862, establishing a class of
Honorary Retired Academicians. Baily seems occasionally to
have been a somewhat troublesome member of the Academy,
especially with regard to the placing of his works in the
exhibitions. On one or two occasions he requested to be
present at the arrangement of the sculpture, though not a
member of the arrangement committee ; and once he went so


far as to alter the position of his works and then to complain to
the Council that they had been put back in their original place,
a cool proceeding which drew down upon him a well-merited
rebuke from that body. His death took place in 1867.


The obstacles which riches present to those desirous of
entering the Kingdom of Heaven are often likewise found in
the paths which lead to the Kingdom of Art. Whether it was
his opulence or his apathy that choked the talents of Richard
Cook we are unable to determine, but that he possessed a
correct eye and considerable taste, some beautiful drawings
which he made from Michael Angelo's frescos in the Sistine
Chapel bear witness. Born in London in 1784, he entered the
Academy schools in 1800, and began exhibiting, in 1808, land-
scapes of a poetic class, the subjects of many of which were
taken from Scott's poems. He was elected an Associate in 1816,
and in 1817 exhibited a picture entitled "Ceres Disconsolate for
the Loss of Proserpine." Classical subjects were much in vogue
at the time, and it was for pictures of this class that Cook
obtained the full honours of the Academy in 1822; having
attained these he seems to have had no further ambition, for
from thence to the time of his death he ceased to exhibit.
Very little is known of his private life, save that he was rich
and hospitable. He died in 1857.


William Daniell, the nephew of Thomas Daniell, the Academi-
cian, was born in 1769. At the age of fourteen he went with his
uncle to India, assisting him materially in his work, Oriental
Scenery > which was published in 1808 in five volumes. In this
work the plates engraved by young Daniell are greatly superior
to those in the sixth volume which are the work of James Wales.


On his return he began exhibiting Indian views at the Academy,
and entered the schools in 1799. Between 1801 and 1814,
William Daniell published A Picturesque Voyage to India,
and many other works, and in the last named year he com-
menced a work on his own country, called A Voyage Round
Great Britain, two or three months each summer for many
years being spent in making drawings and notes. The book
was completed in 1825. Meantime he had been elected an
Associate in 1807 and an Academician in 1822.

Though the subjects of the pictures by the Daniells were
novel and interesting at the time they were executed, they
possessed little artistic excellence, and the election of the uncle
and nephew to the rank of full membership will always remain
one of the enigmas of the early years of the Institution. William
Daniell died in 1837.


the son of Philip Reinagle, R.A., was a painter of landscapes
and animals of considerable ability. Born in 1775, he exhibited
his first picture at the Academy at the early age of thirteen,
but it was not till 1814 that he was elected an Associate, the
full honours following in 1823.

Though all his life he had been regarded as a man of integrity
and honour, in his old age, probably through stress of poverty,
he was tempted to commit an act for which he had to forfeit his
membership. He purchased of a dealer a picture by an artist
named Yarnold, which after a little touching up he exhibited in
1848 as his own. The attention of the Academy was called to
the fraud, and a committee of seven members was appointed to
investigate the matter. Reinagle refused to attend their meet-
ings, and for a long time persisted in denying the truth of the
accusation. The evidence in proof of it was, however, too
strong, and the committee at the end of a long report recom-
mended that Mr Reinagle, to save the committee the necessity


of further proceedings, should be requested to voluntarily resign
his diploma, which he did. He was not, however, deprived of
his pension, and continued to receive pecuniary assistance from
the Academy till his death, which took place in 1862. The
present of plate which, in accordance with custom he had pre-
sented on his election, was in 1850 ordered to be sealed up and
no more used.


This architect, the son of Joseph Wyatt and nephew of
Samuel Wyatt and James Wyatt, R.A., was born at Burton-on-
Trent in 1766. As a boy he was anxious to go to sea, and had
a providential escape from being drowned in the ill-fated Royal
George^ which ship he was to have joined, but arrived at Ports-
mouth too late. He eventually entered his uncle Samuel's
office as architectural pupil, and later on served with his uncle
James; but not finding much employment as an architect, he
formed a sort of partnership with a builder named Armstrong,
who was engaged in large Government and other contracts.
This led to his being employed in the enlargement and altera-
tion of many country mansions, so that he gradually acquired
a considerable reputation, and was elected an Associate in
1822, and an Academician two years later. The chief work
of his life, however, began in 1824, when he was appointed
architect of the additions and improvements intended to be
made at Windsor Castle. The first stone of the new buildings
was laid on I2th August 1824, and Wyatt, in honour of the
occasion, assumed the name of Wyatville to distinguish him from
the other architects of the name of Wyatt. This piece of vanity
and affectation provoked the following squib :

" Let George, whose restlessness leaves nothing quiet,
Change if he will the good old name of Wyatt ;
But let us hope that their united skill
Will not make Windsor Castle Wyatville."


In 1828 he was knighted and given apartments in the
Winchester Tower in the Castle. The completion of the works,
which cost 700,000, occupied him till his death ; but he also,
during the last twenty years of his life, made extensive additions
to Chatsworth, and added a new front to Sidney Sussex College,
Cambridge. He died in 1840, and is buried in St George's
Chapel, Windsor.


born in 1786, was the son of a mezzotint engraver. He
obtained admission to the schools of the Academy in 1801 at
the age of fifteen, and two years later exhibited his first picture ;
but his artistic studies were considerably interrupted by his
military ardour, for when the Peninsula War broke out young
Jones joined the militia, and having, with his company volun-
teered for active service, formed, in 1815, part of the army of
occupation in Paris. On resuming his artistic profession, Jones's
pictures were chiefly, as was to be expected, of a military
character. Of their kind they were by no means without merit,
and they procured for him his election as an Associate in 1822,
and an Academician in 1824. Among his best known works
are " The Battle of Waterloo," at Chelsea Hospital, and " Nelson
boarding the San Josef at the battle of Cape St Vincent," at
Greenwich Hospital.

Jones was elected Librarian in 1834, and held the office till
his appointment as Keeper in 1840. During that period the
removal of the Academy frcm Somerset House to Trafalgar
Square took place, and the rearrangement of the books and
prints was carried out by Jones in a systematic manner not
hitherto attempted. In the course of his tenure of the Keeper-
ship, from 1840 to 1850, he visited many foreign schools of art, with
a view to seeing what improvements could be introduced into
the system of teaching in the Academy schools, and it was at
his recommendation that the draped living model was set in the


Painting School, where previously only copying and still life
painting had been practised. His efforts were much appreciated
by the students, who, in 1845, presented him with a handsome
piece of plate. For the last five years of his life (1845-50) Sir
Martin Archer Shee was prevented by illness from discharging the
duties of President, and Jones acted as his deputy, and received
the thanks of the General Assembly for the urbanity and zeal
with which he had performed his duties. He lived many years
afterwards, his death not taking place till 1869, but took very
little part in the business of the Academy. To the end of his
life Jones always affected a rather military appearance in his
dress, and prided himself on a certain resemblance he bore to
the Duke of Wellington, for whom he was said to have been
once mistaken. This story when repeated to the great duke
drew from him the remark that he had never been mistaken for
Mr Jones.


William Wilkins, a staunch supporter of the classic as
opposed to the revived Gothic style of architecture, was the son
of a successful builder. Born at Norwich in 1778, he was
educated at the Free Grammar School there, and afterwards
went in 1796 to Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated
Sixth Wrangler in 1800. A travelling Fellowship obtained in the
following year enabled him to visit Italy and Greece, the result
of which was a work by him entitled Antiquities of Magna
Gratia, published in 1807.

He appeared as an exhibitor at the Academy before he
left Cambridge, but does not appear to have done any
professional work till after his return from abroad, when he
was appointed architect of Downing College. In this building,
and in another, Haileybury College, designed by him some
years later, the attempt to adapt the severity of Greek archi-
tecture to the requirements and usages of modern life cannot
be said to have been very successful. He was employed on



several other buildings .in Cambridge, and in 1817 erected the
Nelson monument at Yarmouth. In this year, too, he published
his second edition of The Civil Architecture of Vitruvius.

His reputation as a rising architect procured his election as
an Associate in 1823, and three years afterwards he was pro-
moted to the rank of Academician. He had just finished, in
connection with J. P. Gandy, afterwards Deering, the United
University Club House in Suffolk Street, and two years later
saw him engaged on one of his most important works, the
building in Gower Street for the newly founded University
College. This was, perhaps, his most successful work, though
he only completed the central portion of his design, of which
the dome and portico with the fine flight of steps ascending to
it were greatly admired. In his next important building, the
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, begun in 1832, Wilkins
was greatly hampered by alterations in the allotted space after
he had made his designs, and by various conditions imposed by
the Government, besides being obliged to use for his portico the
columns from Carlton House, but the result hardly deserves the
severe criticisms which have been passed upon it. Another
well-known building of Wilkins is St George's Hospital. In

1836 he was an unsuccessful competitor for the New Houses of
Parliament, and was foolish enough to publish a pamphlet
explaining the merits of his own design, and the defects of those
of the other competitors, and condemning the decision of the

He was elected Professor of Architecture at the Academy in

1837 in succession to Sir John Soane, but died in 1839 at
Cambridge without delivering any lectures.


This artist, as his name suggests, was of Scotch descent,
his grandfather having emigrated in 1750 from Scotland to
Cecil County, in the State of Maryland. Both his father


and his mother, Robert Leslie and Lydia Baker, were natives
of Maryland.

Robert Leslie was a man of great ingenuity in mechanics,
who pursued the business of clock and watchmaker in Phila-
delphia. He was a member of the Philosophical Society, and
was known and respected by some of the most eminent scientific
men in America, including Benjamin Franklin and La Trobe,
the architect of the Capitol at Washington. In 1793 he came
over on business to England, and it was during, his stay in
London that his eldest son Charles was born, on the ipth of
October 1794, at Islington. On the death of his partner, in
Philadelphia, Robert Leslie with his young children returned to
America, sailing from Gravesend on the i8th September 1799,
and after a voyage of seven months and twenty-six days reached
Philadelphia on the nth May 1800. The protraction of this
voyage was due to the ship The Washington having been
engaged in action with a French privateer on the 24th of
October, and though the privateer was beaten off, with the loss
of 37 men killed and 58 wounded, The Washington was so
disabled in her rigging that the captain had to put into Lisbon
to refit. They did not leave Lisbon until the 3ist of March,
and even after that were much delayed by gales.

The painter's father died shortly after his return to Phila-
delphia. His widow was left by no means well off, but
she contrived, by keeping a boarding-house, to bring up her
young family in a respectable manner. Charles Robert and his
brother Thomas were educated at the school of the University
of Pennsylvania, and spent their summers and autumns in visits
to the farms of their maternal uncles, in Chester County.

C. R. Leslie had from his boyhood been fond of drawing, and
when old enough to think of a profession desired to be a painter.
There were, however, no means available for carrying out this
desire, and he was in the year 1808 bound apprentice to Messrs
Bradford & Inskeep, Booksellers and Publishers in Philadelphia.
Through the kindness of an assistant scene-painter, Tom


Reinagle by name, Leslie obtained a place on the stage of the
theatre at Philadelphia upon several occasions when the cele-
brated George Frederick Cooke was performing. The impres-
sion made on the young artist's mind was so strong that he drew
from recollection a striking portrait of the great actor, which
attracted the attention of several gentlemen of Philadelphia. A
subscription was raised by their help and Mr Bradford's to
enable Leslie to study painting two years in Europe, and after
some few lessons from Sully, he sailed from New York in 1811
armed with letters of introduction to West, Beechey, Allston,
and other artists of distinction.

Though a little homesick during the first few months in
England, the widening circle of his new acquaintances and the
artistic influence of his new surroundings soon took effect in the
rapid development of his powers. After some preliminary
instructions he was admitted a student at the Academy in 1813,
and exhibited in the same year his first picture, " Murder," with
a quotation from Macbeth; followed up next year by the
" Witch of Endor." From the venerable President, West, the
young artist received much kind help and encouragement, and
through his friend, Allston, he made the acquaintance of Coleridge
and Charles Lamb ; whilst at the theatres, of which he was
always fond, he saw Mrs Siddons, the Kembles, Bannister, and
Edmund Kean. In order to support himself he painted at this
time numerous small portraits. These were highly finished, and
generally exceedingly good likenesses. Among them may be
specially mentioned those of himself, of Washington Irving, and
of Sir Walter Scott.

In his picture of " Sir Roger de Coverley going to Church,"
exhibited in 1819, Leslie may be said to have found the line of
art which he afterwards made so peculiarly his own, and on
which his reputation rests viz., humorous genre. The subjects
taken from his favourite authors, Addison, Shakespeare, Cer-
vantes, Sterne, Smollett, and Fielding, were always happily
selected, and rendered with an appreciative intelligence in


which he has never been equalled. Some of the best known
are in the National Collections. Two important events in the
reign of Queen Victoria were commemorated by him, " Queen
Victoria receiving the Sacrament on her Coronation in West-
minster Abbey," and " The Christening of the Princess Royal,"
and he also designed a scene from Comus as a fresco for the
Pavilion at Buckingham Palace.

His success soon met with recognition from the Academy,
and in 1821 he was elected an Associate by a majority of one
over George Clint, his promotion to Academicianship following
in 1826. He had married in the previous year, and it is
probable that the cares of an increasing family, and the prospect
of a certain income with much leisure induced him, in 1833,
to accept the appointment of drawing master at the West
Point Military Academy, which had been procured for him
by his brother ; but the work proved to be far more arduous
than he had been led to expect, the climate damp and
unhealthy, and the cost of living very high, while, added to
these drawbacks, he pined daily for the society of the comrades
and the art world that he had parted from, and it is not
surprising that in the following April he resigned his appoint-
ment and returned to England, in which country he made
his home for the rest of his life.

In the early years of his membership Leslie does not
appear to have taken any active part in the business of the
Academy, but he subsequently displayed great interest in its
affairs, and was the author of many proposals, beginning in
1844 with one that the number of works allowed to be sent
by each exhibitor should be limited to six. A resolution to
this effect was passed by the Council and sanctioned by the
General Assembly, but was subsequently, on the motion of
J. M. W. Turner seconded by H. W. Pickersgill, rescinded by
eleven votes to seven, and no change made. Many efforts in
the same direction have been made since, but none were success-
ful until 1904, when the number allowed to be sent by members


was reduced to six, and by non-members to three. Other
efforts of Leslie's met with a better fate, especially the proposal
to admit engravers to the Academicianship, which, brought
forward by him first in the Council in May 1852, was finally
carried to a successful issue before the end of 1853, and saw its
first accomplishment in the election of Samuel Cousins in 1855.
Some of the proposals made by him, though negatived at the
time, have since been carried into effect, such as the opening
of the exhibition in the evening, and the abolition of the laws
requiring that candidates for the Associateship should be "at
least twenty-four years of age," and that they should " not be
members of any other society of artists established in London."
On the election of Sir Charles Eastlake to the Presidency in
1850, it was on his proposal that the annual allowance of ^"300
which had been voted to the late President, Shee, in 1845,
was continued to the President until the bequest of Sir Francis
Chantrey should come into operation.

In 1847 Leslie was unanimously elected Professor of Paint-
ing, an office which he retained till 1852, when his state of
health obliged him to resign. The substance of his lectures
was published in 1855 as a Handbook to Young Painters. His
literary skill was considerable, and is pleasantly displayed in
the memoirs of his friend, John Constable. He also wrote a
Life of Reynolds > and some Autobiographical Recollections, both
of which were published after his death under the editorship
of Tom Taylor. In the Recollections we obtain a charming
picture of the coterie of distinguished people, among whom
the artist's modesty and amiability rendered him ever a welcome
favourite. Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott, Lord and Lady Holland,
Sidney Smith, Lord Egremont, and in later years Dickens,
Thackeray, and the Doyles were, amongst others, his intimate
friends ; of these his pen affords us many delightful and graphic

The death of this amiable and accomplished artist took
place on 5th May 1859, the day following the opening of the


Academy Exhibition which contained his last two works,
" Jeannie Deans appealing to the Queen," and " Hotspur and
Lady Percy." Thackeray in the last of his Roundabout Papers
paid him the following touching tribute :

" Not many days since I went to visit a house where, in
former years, I had received many a friendly welcome. We
went into the owner's an artist's studio. Prints, pictures,
and sketches hung on the walls as I had last seen and
remembered them. The implements of the painter's art were
there. The light which had shone upon so many, many
hours of patient and cheerful toil, poured through the northern
window upon print and bust, lay figure and sketch, and upon
the easel before which the good, the gentle, the beloved Leslie
laboured. In this room the busy brain had devised, and the
skilful hand executed, I know not how many of the noble
works which have delighted the world with their beauty and
charming humour. Here the poet called up into pictorial
presence, and informed with life, grace, beauty, infinite friendly
mirth, and wondrous naturalness of expression, the people of
whom his dear books told him the stories his Shakespeare,
his Cervantes, his Moliere, his Le Sage."

Leslie left three sons all of whom became distinguished
in their respective professions, and one of them, the youngest,
followed directly in his father's footsteps, and was elected a
Royal Academician in 1876.


Born in London in 1782, the subject of this memoir was
adopted, as a child, by a Spitalfields silk weaver named Hall.

Online LibraryJ. E. (John Evan) HodgsonThe Royal academy and its members 1768-1830 → online text (page 27 of 35)