James Holworthy

(bap. 26 December 1780 (81?) - 13 June 1841)



Water-colour painter, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 and 1804 . In the latter year he was one of the foundation members of the (now Royal) Society of Painters in Water-colours, and he contributed constantly to their exhibitions till 1813, his subjects being drawn from Wales, the Lake district, and Yorkshire. He practised in London till 1822. In 1824 he married a niece of Joseph Wright of Derby, and retired to the Brookfield estate, near Hathersage in that county, which he had purchased. He died in London in 1841, was buried at Kensal Green. He was a friend of J. M. W. Turner, R.A. There are two drawings by him at the South Kensington Museum. [Redgrave’s Dictionary; Bryan’s Dictionary (Graves); Grave’s Dictionary; Catalogue of South Kensington Museum.]



Miss Templeton, Mr. Holworthy and Miss Crewe, Sketching in a Wooded Landscape



HOLWORTHY, James, a landscape painter in water-colours, was in 1804 one of the original members of the Water-Colour Society, at which he exhibited till 1813. He also occasionally exhibited at the Royal Academy; but in 1824 he married a niece of Wright of Derby, and retired from the profession. He died in London in 1841. There are the following water-colour drawings by him in the South Kensington Museum: Part of Raglan Castle. Trees and Cattle. Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, 1876 - Reprinted, 1894, 1899


Holworthy, James, watercolour painter, was baptized in Market Bosworth in Leicestershire on 26 December 1780, the son of James Holworthy, a monumental stone mason, and his wife, Mary. As a young man Holworthy moved to London where he lived at 4 Mount Street, Berkeley Square; Joseph Farington recorded in his journals that in May 1804 another Leicestershire artist, John Glover, was lodging with Holworthy and instructing him. Holworthy also taught drawing; in a self-portrait as a young man entitled "The Drawing Master" in the Paul Mellon collection he sits sketching out of doors between two female pupils. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 and 1804, and showed five drawings at the first exhibition of the recently formed Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1805. Holworthy continued to exhibit with the society until 1813. In the National Art Library there are papers relating to his membership, including a letter of 13 February 1815, from Copley Fielding stating that other members ‘could not divest themselves of the idea that Mr Holworthy was only an absent and not a “ci devant” member’. In all he showed only twenty-nine drawings, mostly Welsh views and castles, and priced up to £9. His work is similar to Glover's. Martin Hardie called him the ‘least significant’ of the first members of the society. Monkhouse, a contemporary critic, described Holworthy as ‘an elegant artist, very skilful in the use of Indian Ink but not venturing far in the colour process’ (Hardie, 2.134). The Victoria and Albert Museum has two watercolours and three sketchbooks by him. Holworthy's low output as a painter must in part have been as a result of defective eyesight but he was sufficiently wealthy not to have to earn a living.

On 15 October 1821 Holworthy married Anne Wright (1777-1842) in Hastings; she was the daughter of Richard Wright, a doctor with a considerable practice in Derby and elder brother of the artist Joseph Wright of Derby. They lived at Greenhill House in Derby with Anne's elder sister Hannah. However, Holworthy was ambitious to be a country gentleman and, according to a notebook kept by him (now in Derby Local Studies Library), Holworthy decided after a visit to the Peak District in autumn 1823, that he wished to move into the country: ‘I have often decided that there are only two places to live -- one in London and the other in the country, far from the hurry of the world’; in 1824 he bought the Brookfield estate at Hathersage in Derbyshire, ‘a district uncultivated and uncivilised’, with 1401 acres, a grouse moor, farm houses, and a substantial house, which he rebuilt..

Holworthy was a close friend of J. M. W. Turner, some of whose most intimate surviving letters are to Holworthy. Turner stayed at his house at 29 York Buildings, New Road, in St Marylebone, when his own was being repaired in 1820. Two drawings, "Mountainous Landscape" and "Coast Scene Sunrise", given by Turner in 1824, a Liber Studiorum, and a snuff box ‘made out of Lava from Mount Vesuvius’ used by Turner as a pallet are listed in the Brookfield sale catalogue of March 1868; the catalogue also includes 5000 engravings, 4000 books, and paintings by Watteau (formerly in the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds), Chardin, and Joseph Wright, as well as oil and watercolour landscapes by Holworthy and a watercolour by Glover..

Holworthy was appointed a justice of the peace for Derbyshire in July 1827, but in May the following year in R. v. Holworthy, held in Westminster Hall, he was accused of irregularities in the conviction of three men for poaching partridges; the lord chief justice dismissed the case. Towards the end of his life Holworthy brought an action against the Sheffield Iris over an alleged libel in an anonymous letter. He died from bronchitis at 3 St John Street, Gray's Inn, London, on 13 June 1841, aged sixty-one, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery on 19 June. His wife died on 28 November 1842 aged sixty-five, and was buried among the Wright family graves at St Alkmund's Church, Derby. There were no children. Brookfield continued to be occupied by Hannah Wright until her death in 1867 after which the estate was sold..

R. C. Timms, James Holworthy (1780-1841)’, OWCS Club, 58, 9-13 -- MSS notes by Timms, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester -- Brookfield sale catalogue (1868) -- M. Hardie, Water-colour painting in Britain, ed. D. Snelgrove, J. Mayne, and B. Taylor, 2: The Romantic period (1967), 134 -- will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/1985, sig. 635 -- Anne Holworthy's will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/1985, sig. 639 -- Farington, Diary -- W. Bemrose, The life and works of Joseph Wright, A.R.A., commonly called ‘Wright of Derby’ (1885), Derbys. RO, corresp.; Derbys. RO, notebook; R. v. Holworthy case papers; Hannah Wright MSS; Brookfield sale catalogue -- V&A NAL, corresp. relating to Society of Painters in Water Colours, London


Birth: 1781
Death: 1841
Watercolour artist whose works can be seen in the Tate Gallery. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 and 1804. In his later years, he was one of the foundation members of the Society of Painters in Water-colours, now known as the Royal Watercolour Society, to which he contributed constantly to their exhibitions until 1813. His subjects being drawn from Wales, the Lake district, and Yorkshire. He practised in London till 1822.
Burial: Kensal Green Cemetery, Kensal Green, London Borough of Brent, Greater London, England.
© Copyright Ownership: Find A Grave Memorial


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