Thomas (Frank) Heaphy

(2 April 1813 - 7 August 1873)





Portrait and subject painter, the son of Thomas Heaphy, was born in 1813. He began life as a portrait painter, in which branch he achieved some success, but later on in life he turned his attention more especially to historical and subject painting. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1831, and continued to contribute from time to time; he was also a member of the Society of British Artists, and contributed many articles to various periodicals.

The following are amongst his best works:
The Infant Pan educated by the "Wood Nymphs. 1850.
The Parting of Catharine and Bianca. 1853.
Kepler in poverty taken for a Fortune-Teller. 1863.
Mary Stuart at Tutbury Castle. 1872.
Palissy the Potter taken for a Coinsr. 1864.
An Unexpected Inheritance. 1865.
A Series of the Peasant Girls of various Countries.





Thomas Heaphy, Son of a water-color artist of the same name. He began life as a portrait-painter, and was very successful, numbering among his sitters many distinguished persons. Upon the introduction of photography he gradually withdrew from this branch of the profession, devoting himself to subjects of another kind. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, "Infant Pan", 1850; "The Parting of Catherine and Bianca", 1853; "Palissy the Potter taken by his Townspeople for a Coiner", 1864; "Lord Burleigh showing her New Home to his Peasant Bride", 1865; "Lizzie Farren, afterwards Countess of Derby, waiting at the Prison Bars with her Father's Breakfast", 1872; and "Mary Stuart at Tutbury Castle", 1872. His "Unexpected Inheritance" was at the British Institution in 1865.

Artists of the XIX Century, Works & Biographical Sketches, Clara Erskine Clement & Laurence Hutton, 1879.

THOMAS HEAPHY the younger (1813–1873), portrait and subject painter, eldest son of Thomas Heaphy the elder [q. v.], by his first wife, Mary Stevenson, was born at St. John's Wood, London, 2 April 1813. In 1831, when a lad of seventeen, Heaphy accompanied his father on a visit to Italy, where he acquired a knowledge of the language and cultivated a taste for religious art, for which he always retained a strong predilection. Adopting his father's profession, he commenced life as a portrait-painter, and for many years enjoyed an extensive patronage. He exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy in 1831, and in 1850 sent his first subject picture, ‘The Infant Pan educated by the Wood Nymphs.’ Among his most successful works which followed were ‘Catherine and Bianca’ (1853), a series of peasant girls of various countries (1859–62), ‘Kepler mistaken for an Astrologer’ (1863), ‘Palissy the Potter taken for a Coiner’ (1864), ‘Lord Burleigh showing his Peasant Bride her new Home’ (1865), and ‘Lizzie Farren, afterwards Countess of Derby, waiting at the Prison Bars with her Father's Breakfast’ (1872). In 1867 he sent to the exhibition of the Society of British Artists ‘General Fairfax and his Daughter pursued by the Royal Troops,’ and in that year was elected a member of the society. In 1844 he was commissioned to paint an altar-piece for the protestant church at Malta, erected at the expense of Queen Adelaide, and he also executed one for a church at Toronto, Canada.

He devoted much time to investigating the origin of the traditional likeness of Christ; in the pursuit of this inquiry he travelled widely. At Rome he made careful drawings of everything illustrating the subject to which he could obtain access in the Catacombs and Vatican Library. He has given an interesting account of his difficulties in procuring the necessary permissions for this purpose. His last journey to Rome was made in 1860, and in the following year he published the result of his labours in a series of eight articles in the Art Journal. The papers with the necessary illustrations were not reissued till 1880, seven years after his death, when they were brought out in a folio volume under the editorship of his friend Mr. Wyke Bayliss, F.S.A., with the title The Likeness of Christ; an Enquiry into the verisimilitude of the received Likeness of our Blessed Lord. A cheap reprint has since been issued by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. The original drawings are now in the print room of the British Museum.

Heaphy possessed considerable literary ability, and contributed articles on various subjects to the periodical press; among them "A Night in the Catacombs," (St. James's Magazine, 1861), "The Beggar Saint," (Once a Week, 1862), and "Mr. H——'s Own Narrative," (All the Year Round, 1861); the last tale attracted great attention, and was subsequently republished in a separate form under the title "A Wonderful Ghost Story," with letters from Charles Dickens to the author on the subject.

During the last four years of his life, when ill-health kept him much indoors, he painted a series of types of foreign beauty, and wrote accounts of them in various publications. At an early period Heaphy assumed the additional christian name ‘Frank,’ with the view of thereby distinguishing his works from those of his father, but dropped it before 1850. In 1842 he married Eliza Bradstreet, daughter of Joseph Bradstreet, of the family of Little Wenham, Suffolk, with whom he had many children. He died in South Belgravia, 7 Aug. 1873.

[Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 25, Heaphy, Thomas (1813-1873), by Freeman Marius O'Donoghue; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Athenæum, No. 2390, 16 Aug. 1873; Art Journal, 1873; Wikisource: Heaphy, Thomas (1813-1873).]


Thomas Heaphy was born on April 2, 1813, at St John's Wood, London, the eldest of the six children of the painter Thomas Heaphy and his first wife Mary Stevenson. About Heaphy's training is not known. At the age of 17, he accompanied his father to Italy, where he became acquainted with the language and religious Italian painting. Back in England, is dedicated to the Heaphy portraiture and was so for many years supporters for his art.

In order to be distinguishable from his father, Heaphy laid in the early years in addition to its name the Christian name Frank, but used it no more after 1850.

In 1831 he presented for the first time some of his work in the Royal Academy of Arts from. In 1842 he married Eliza Bradstreet from Little Wenham, Suffolk, by whom he had several children. Heaphy traveled a lot and studied the Christian church art. In 1844, he received an order for an altarpiece for a Protestant church in Malta. Other commissioned works for churches followed. After his last trip to Italy in 1860, he published the results of his work in a series of eight articles in the magazine Art Journal. In 1867 he was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, whose president was his father in 1824. The last four years of his life tied him to illness at his home. He died on August 7, 1873 in the south of Belgravia in London. Seven years after his death, the articles of the Journal were again launched and published.

Renowned works of Heaphy are: "The Infant Pan educated by the Wood Nymphs" in 1850, "Catherine and Bianca" from 1853, a series of young farmers from the years 1859 to 1862, "Kepler mistaken for at Astrologer" of 1863 , "Palissy the Potter taken for a Coiner" in 1864, "Lord Burleigh showing his Peasant Bride her new home" from 1865 and "Mary Stuard at Tutbury Castle" of 1872.

[Samuel Redgrave: Heaphy, Thomas F., A Dictionary of Artists of the English School Bell, London 1878; Michael Bryan: Heaphy, Thomas Frank, Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, Bell, London, 1886; Freeman Marius O'Donoghue: Heaphy, Thomas (1775-1835), Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 25, Elder Smith & Co., London, 1891; de.wikipedia.org.]



A wonderful ghost story

[electronic resource]: being Mr. H.'s own narrative: reprinted from "All the year round": with letters hitherto unpublished of Charles Dickens to the author respecting it (1882).




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