John   Wilson   Ewbank

(4 May 1799 - 28 November 1847)

Ewbank was born at Darlington, the son of Michael Ewbank, an innkeeper. He was adopted as a child by a wealthy uncle who lived at Wycliffe, on the banks of the River Tees, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Intended for the Roman Catholic priesthood, he was sent to Ushaw College, which he left.

In 1813, Ewbank was apprenticed to Thomas Coulson, an ornamental painter in Newcastle. Around 1816, he moved with Coulson to Edinburgh, where he had some lessons with Alexander Nasmyth. He found work both as a painter and a teacher. He was nominated in 1830, by one of the foundation members of the Royal Scottish Academy. Having become a success with history painting, he took to drink, and fell into poverty.

His sketches from nature were admired, and a series of 51 drawings of Edinburgh by him were engraved by W. H. Lizars for James Browne's Picturesque Views of Edinburgh, (1825). He also made a reputation with cabinet pictures of banks of rivers, coast scenes, and marine subjects.

After 1829, he changed style and painted "The Visit of George IV to Edinburgh", ""The Entry of Alexander the Great into Babylon, and "Hannibal crossing the Alps", and "A View of Edinburgh from Inchkeith". Later works were painted for cash. He died of typhus fever in the infirmary at Edinburgh, 1847. en.Wikipedia



EWBANK, JOHN W., painter, born at Gateshead, Durham, in or about 1799, was adopted when a child by a wealthy uncle who lived at Wycliffe, on the banks of the Tees, Yorkshire. Being designed for the Roman catholic priesthood, he was sent to Ushaw College, from which he left, and in 1813, bound himself apprentice to T. Coulson, an ornamental painter in Newcastle. So strong had become his love for art that on removing with his master to Edinburgh, he was allowed to study under Alexander Nasmyth. His talents soon procured him practice both as a painter and a teacher. The freedom and truth of his sketches from nature were especially admired; and a series of drawings of Edinburgh by him, were engraved by W. H. Lizars for Dr. James Browne's ‘Picturesque Views of Edinburgh,’ 1825. His reputation, however, will be found to rest upon his cabinet pictures of banks of rivers, coast scenes, and marine subjects. About 1829, he essayed works of a more ambitious character, and was nominated in 1830, by one of the foundation members of the Royal Scottish Academy. He painted ‘The Visit of George IV to Edinburgh,’ ‘The Entry of Alexander the Great into Ewbank was now at the height of his reputation; in one year his labours, it is said, brought him the handsome sum of 2,500l. But he suddenly gave way to habitual intoxication, his wife and children were reduced to want, and he himself became the tenant of a miserable cellar. During the last twelve years of his life his pictures were frequently painted in the taproom of an alehouse, or in his own wretched abode; writes one who knew him well, ‘a solitary chair and a pile or two of bricks formed the only articles in the shape of furniture to be seen -- the window-sill serving for his easel. They were generally painted on tin, within an hour or two, and sold on the instant, wet and unvarnished, for sixpence or a shilling, which was immediately spent in ministering to his gratifications.’ He died of typhus fever in the infirmary at Edinburgh, 28 Nov. 1847. Few of his pictures have been exhibited in London.

[The Art Union, (1848); Gentlemen Magazine; Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists, (1878); Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 18, by Gordon Goodwin.]


View artist's work: John Wilson Ewbank (1799-1847)

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