Thomas Oldham Barlow
(4 August 1824 - 24 December 1889)
In 1858, Barlow founded the "Kensington Life Academy", an informal life-drawing club attended by a small but select group of artists, and which met at the studios of Richard Ansdell (hence the alternative name "Ansdell's"). Barlow was elected an associate engraver of the Royal Academy in 1873, a full associate in 1876, and an academician (RA) in 1881. He was a member and, for many years, secretary of The Etching Club.
Portraits of Barlow were painted by John Phillip in 1856, and by Millais in 1886, and he sat as a model for the figure of the sick ornithologist in the Millais's picture, 'The Ruling Passion'. Barlow engraved Turner's 'Wreck of the Minotaur' for the Earl of Yarborough, who presented the plate to the Artists' General Benevolent Institution, and in 1856, for the same charity, he made a large etching of Turner's 'Vintage of Macon'. Thirty years later he repeated the work in mezzotint, shortly before his death. Barlow died at his house, Auburn Lodge, in Victoria Road, Kensington, and was buried in Brompton cemetery. In 1851, he had married Ellen Cocks, daughter of James Cocks of Oldham, who survived him, and two surviving daughters.
Washington Irving and his Literary Friends at Sunnyside, 1864. From left to right: Henry T. Tuckerman (1813-1871), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870), Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867), Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806-1867), William H. Prescott (1796-1859), Washington Irving (1783-1859), James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), John Pendleton Kennedy (1795-1870), James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), and George Bancroft (1800-1891).
Thomas Oldham Barlow, R.A., was born at Oldham, near Manchester, Aug. 4, 1824. From a very early age his desire was to be a painter or an engraver. His father yielded to his wish, and placed him with Messrs. Stephenson and Royston, engravers, of Manchester. He became a student in the School of Design there, and gained the first prize for a design, exhibited under the title of "Cullings from Nature." At the Manchester Exhibition he saw a small picture, by the late John Phillip, entitled "Courtship," and endeavoured to persuade a friend to purchase it, that he might engrave it before going to London; but this he was reluctantly obliged to abandon.
Soon after coming to London, he made the acquaintance of a gentleman, who suggested his engraving a picture, and offered to supply the necessary means. He therefore went to the first exhibition that was opened—that of the British Institution -- where, to his delight, the first picture that caught his eye was the one he had desired to engrave in Manchester. This introduced him to the late John Phillip, whose first copyright Mr. Barlow purchased for £5, Mr. Phillip having at first refused to take anything for it; and thus began their well-known friendship. Indeed, their similarity of taste and feeling was so marked, that they seemed inseparable. This intimacy and sympathy naturally resulted in Mr. Barlow engraving most of Phillip's pictures.
Mr. Barlow was elected an Associate Engraver of the Royal Academy by an almost unanimous vote in 1873. Mr. Barlow was elected a Royal Academician Engraver May 5, 1881. The following are some of the principal works engraved by Mr. Barlow:
View painter's art: Thomas Oldham Barlow, RA (1824-1889)