Thomas Oldham Barlow

(4 August 1824 - 24 December 1889)

Barlow was born in Oldham in Lancashire, the son of Henry Barlow, an ironmonger living in the High Street, and Sarah (née) Oldham. He was educated at the Old Grammar School, Oldham, and was then articled to "Stephenson & Royston", a firm of engravers in Manchester. He studied at the Manchester School of Design, where he won a prize of 10 guineas in 1846, for a drawing entitled 'Cullings from Nature'. He moved to Ebury Street, London, in 1847. His first independent work was a line engraving of John Phillip's 'Courtship', made in 1848, and this led to a close friendship with the painter, the most important of whose pictures he subsequently engraved. Barlow was the executor of Phillip's will, and drew up a catalogue of the collection of the artist's works which were shown at the Third Annual International Exhibition in London in 1873.

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.

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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).


divThomas 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:
After John Phillip, R.A.
"Courtship" (1848)
"Spanish Gipsy Mother"
"Prayer in Spain"
"Augustus Egg, R.A."
"H.R.H. the Prince Consort"
"'Dona Pepita" (1858)
"The Prison Window" (1860)
"The House of Commons" in 1860" (1866)
"Prayer in Spain"' (1873)
"Highland Breakfast" (1877)
"La Gloria, a Spanish Wake" (1877)
"Breakfast in the Highlands"

After James Sant, R.A.
"Mother and Child"

After F. W. Topham
"Making Nets"

After W. P. Frith, R.A.
"Charles Dickens"

After J.M.W. Turner
"Vintage of Macon" (1856)

After Henrietta Browne
"Sisters of Mercy"

After Sir G. Kneller
"Sir Isaac Newton"

After H. Wallis
"The Death of Chatterton"

After Sir John Everet Millais, R.A.
"The Huguenot" (1856)
"My First Sermon" (1860)
"My Second Sermon"
"John Fowler, Esq., C.E."
"Sir James Paget, Bart."
"The Duke of Westminster"
"Sir Sterndale Bennett"
"Effie Deans"
"A Jersey Lily"
"Mr. Gladstone"
"The Bride of Lammermoor"
"Mr. John Bright"
"Mr. Tennyson"

After Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, R.A.
"The Little Strollers"

After D. Maclise, R.A.
"Dr. R. Quain, F.R.S."


Engraver and etcher, was born in Manchester. He was apprenticed to a firm of engravers before moving to London. In 1849, he exhibited his first work at the Gallery of the Society of British Artists, and two years later, he began exhibiting at the Royal Academy. He engraved works after Sir John Everet Millais, John Philip, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, Richard Ansell and J.M.W. Turner. In 1873, Barlow was elected an honorary member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. He was also elected a member of the Etching Club, whose secretary he was for many years. Barlow was elected an associate engraver of the Royal Academy in 1873, and became a Royal Academician in 1881.


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