Thomas   Danby

(c. 1818 - 25 March 1886)

English landscape painter, born, it is thought, in Bristol in south-west England, the younger son of Francis Danby (1793-1861). He had an elder brother, James Francis Danby (1816-1875) who also became a landscape painter. Thomas went with his father to Europe in 1829, living for a time in Paris where he was able to earn a living by copying pictures at the Louvre in Paris. He thus became an earnest admireer and "student" of Claude Lorrain, whose aerial effects he sought to imitate.

Returning to England about the same time as his father, he first exhibited at the British Institution in 1841, and afterwards frequently at the Royal Academy from 1843. He was a friend of Paul Falconer Poole, with whom he shared a house in Hampstead in 1843, and imbibed not a little of his romantic feeling for nature. From 1855, to his death, Danby resided in or near Hampstead in north London.

The subjects of his landscapes were usually taken from Welsh scenery, especially the old county of Merioneth; his pictures for the most part were not ideal compositions (unlike his father's work) but actual scenes pervaded with a true romantic spirit. "He was always trying" says the writer of his obituary in The Times newspaper, "to render his inner heart's feeling of a beautiful view rather than the local facts received on the retina."

He came, it is said, within one vote of election as an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) but, failing eventually to attain Academy honours, he devoted himself in his latter years chiefly to watercolour painting. He became a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1860, an associate of the Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1867, and a full member of the latter in 1870; until his death his contributions were prominent amongst the works at the society's exhibitions.

Danby died of a chest complaint, terminating in dropsy on 25 March 1886. He had been twice married, and had 2 daughters and a son from the second marriage.

His remaining works, some 200 watercolours and an equal number of oil paintings, were sold at Christie's in London on the 17-18 June 1886.

"Up in the Hills" though scenic, is impressive, for it renders with considerable vigour and some good colour the sadness of bare hill tops in strong sunlight." -- Athenaeum.

"Of the many drawings of Mr. Danby, the one that stands apart as the best is probably a Welsh Scene, "Up in the Hills." Guardian.

The Artist; Journal of Home Culture, January 15, 1880; Dictionary of National Biography 14. Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1888); Roget, John Lewis, A History of the "Old water-colour" Society, 1891.

Son of Francis Danby, A. R. A., and younger brother of James Danby. He is a landscape-painter, resident in London. He painted for many years in oil, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. Later, becoming a member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colors, he has more particularly devoted himself to works in that medium, exhibiting in different seasons,
"Up in the Hills"
"On the River Wye"
"A Mountain Stream in North Wales"
" Merionethshire"
"The Lake of Bala"
"The Castle by the Sea"
"The Wilds of Wales"
"A Spring Morning"

Artists of the Nineteenth Century & their Works, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.

Born in Bristol in 1817 or 1818, the second son of Francis Danby (q.v.). He accompanied his father to the continent in 1829, and studied in the Louvre with such advantage that when only thirteen years of age he was able to earn a livelihood by making copies of the pictures there. He was deeply impressed with the works of Claude, whose aerial effects had an influence on his future work. Returning to England with his father in 1841 he began to exhibit, sending to the British Institution in that year a small oil picture, "A Wreck from Nature." This was followed by numerous other works at the same Gallery and at the Academy, where he first appeared in 1843. His early works were in oil, but he found his true vocation as a painter in water-colours. In 1867, he was elected an Associate of the old Water-colour Society, and in 1870, became a full Member. He contributed in all 233 works to the exhibitions held by that body. On the enlargement of the membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy his name was included as a Member in the new Charter in 1860. He died on the 25th March, 1886.

Thomas Danby was an accomplished painter, harmonious in his colouring, and full of feeling; though his art was mannered and his range limited. He confined himself almost entirely to mountain and lake scenery in Wales, treated with a sameness of colour scheme and arrangement which in its lack of variety became monotonous. Four pictures by him are in the Victoria and Albert Museum: "Escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven," signed and dated 1864; "Lake and Mountain scene with a boy fishing;" "Mountain scene in Wales, figures hauling in a net from a lake," and "Mountain scene and stream." Danby was married twice; first to a daughter of Mr. Williams, landlord of the Inn at Capel Curig, where he always stayed, and secondly to a teacher of music. He resided, from 1855, at Hampstead.

© Copyrighted Ownership: From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913. []

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