William Charles Thomas Dobson


He was born in Hamburg, the son of the merchant John Dobson, who had married in Germany. The family came to England in 1826, and Dobson was educated in London. He studied in the British Museum, and was taught by Edward Opie, nephew of John Opie. In 1836 he entered the Royal Academy schools, and was instructed by Charles Lock Eastlake.

Through Eastlake's influence Dobson obtained a post in the government school of design established in the old Royal Academy rooms at Somerset House. In 1843 he became head-master of the government school of design in Birmingham, resigning in 1845, and went to Italy, where he spent most of his time at Rome. Moving on to Germany, he was impressed by the Nazarene school of that time. On returning to England he took up religious painting.

Dobson was elected an associate of the Royal Academy on 31 January 1860, and an academician in January 1872. He was a member of the Etching Club, founded in 1842. In 1870 he was elected an associate of the Royal Water-colour Society, of which he became a full member in 1875. He remained a constant exhibitor, both at the Royal Academy and at the (Old) Water-colour Society, contributing about a hundred and twenty pictures to the former and about sixty to the latter. He became a retired academician in 1895, and died at Ventnor on 30 January 1898.

Dobson exhibited portraits, and The Hermit, a subject from Thomas Parnell's poem, at the Royal Academy Exhibitions of 1842-1845. The Young Italian Goatherd, painted in Italy, was at the exhibition of 1846. He painted numerous scriptural subjects, at first in oils, later in water-colours also, which caught the vogue for sentimentality, and were popularised by engraving.


William Charles Thomas Dobson was born at Hamburg in 1817. His fatlier was an English merchant in that city, and came to London in 1825. Dobson in 1836 entered the Royal Academy Schools, and in 1843 received an appointment at the Government School of Design, then at Somerset House. In 1843 he became headmasler of the School of Design at Birmingham, but resigned the post in 1845 and went to Italy. From there he went to Germany, where he remained several years. On his return he exhibited pictures on scriptural and other subjects, at first in oil, and afterwards in water-colour; the principal of which were: 'Tobias and the Angel' (1853), 'The Charity of Dorcas' (1854), 'The Almsdeeds of Dorcas' (1855), 'The Prosperous Days of Job' (1856), 'The Child Jesus going to Nazareth with His Parents,' and 'Reading the Psalms' (18.57), 'The Holy Innocents' (1858), 'The Good Shepherd' (1865), and 'St. Paul at Philippi,' deposited in the Diploma Gallery (1873); and among secular subjects, 'The Picture Book' (International Exhibition, 1862), 'A Venetian Girl' (1879),' Mignon ' and 'lone' (1880). His water-colour drawings included 'The Young Nurse," The Camellia' (1873), and 'Ninsery Tales ' (1874). Dobson was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1867, and an Academician in 1872. In 1870 he was elected Associate of the Royal Water-Colour Society, of which, in 1875, he became a full member. He died at Ventnor in 1898.

Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers, 1903 div

Dobson, Wiliiam C. T., R. A. (Brit.) Born at Hamburg, 1817. Taken by his parents to London when about ten years of age. Studied from the antique in the British Museum, and entered the schools of the Royal Academy in 1836. Was a pupil and friend of Eastlake, and Head Master of the Schools of Design at Birmingham from 1843 to '45, when he went to the Continent for the purpose of study, remaining in Italy and Germany for some years. His pictures are generally of scriptural subjects, and many of them have been engraved. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, in 1853, "Tobias and the Angel"; in 1855, "The Charity of Dorcas" (purchased by the Queen); in 1860, "Train up a Child in the Way he should go"; in 1866, "The Child Jesus in the Temple"; in 1869, "A Picture-Book"; in 1870, " Nunc dimittis"; in 1872, "A Crown to her Husband"; in 1873, "Paul at Philippi " (deposited in the Academy on his election as an Academician); in 1874, "Father's Welcome Home"; in 1875, "Children's Children are the Crown of Old Men "; in 1876, "Rebecca"; in 1877, "Waiting"; in 1878, "Mother and Child" and "At the Masquerade." He is a member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colors, contributing several works in that medium to the Paria Exposition of 1878.

"Mr. Dobson seems to nave shown some advance this year [1864] towards a larger style. While prettiness holds, as it always will hold, its place in art, we can hardly ask for prettier faces and attitudes than his two fair damsels with their flowers and their books ['Girls with Kerns ' and 'Morning,' R. A., 1864]. The former is almost as bright as the child with the story-book, which did Mr. Dobson credit in the International Exhibition." -- Palorave's Essays on Art.

"The 'Camelia,' by W. C. T. Dobson [Water-Color Exhibition, 1873], has very much of the round German character, but it is a really charming head, luminous In color, and most agreeable in expression. 'Sappho,' by the same hand, is also a fascinating study, brilliant and graceful.'' -- Art Journal, June, 1873.