John William Inchbold

(29 August 1830 - 23 January 1888)

English painter born in Leeds, Yorkshire and influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite style. He was the son of a Yorkshire newspaper owner, proprietor and editor of the Leeds Intelligencer. Having shown an early talent for drawing he moved to London and became as a draughtsman in the lithographic works of Day and Haghe.

He became a pupil of Louis Haghe, the water-colour painter, and was a student at the Royal Academy in 1847. He exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1849, at the Academy from 1851. At first he worked in watercolour in a free style, but his first exhibited oil painting, shown at the Academy in 1852, seems to have shown the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and in 1855 he gained the enthusiastic praise of John Ruskin for "The Moorland", which was painted in illustration of a famous passage from Tennyson's Locksley Hall. His "White Doe of Rylstone" was purchased by Ruskin.

He spent much of the later part of his life abroad, mainly in Switzerland, where he had spent some time with Ruskin in the mid-1850s.

His best-known works are probably "The Jungfrau" (1857), "On the Lake of Thun" (1860), "Tintagel" (1862), "Gordale Scar" (1876) and "Drifting" (1883); the last named was once in the possession of Coventry Patmore. Tennyson, Browning, Lord Houghton, and Sir Henry Thompson were among his admirers and supporters, and in Dr. Russell Reynolds he found a liberal and discriminating patron. A year or two before his death he had returned from Algeria with a large collection of sketches, in which the ordinary defects of his manner were less apparent. He died suddenly of heart disease at Headingly, near Leeds, on 23 January 1888. His memory was honoured by Swinburne in a funereal ode. He published a book of sonnets called Annus Amoris in 1876.

Dictionary of National Biography Entry, Volume 28; The Royal Academy of Arts complete dictionary of contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904; en.Wikipedia

INCHBOLD, JOHN WILLIAM (1830–1888), painter, was born 29 April 1830 at Leeds, where Thomas Inchbold, his father, was proprietor and editor of the 'Leeds Intelligencer.' Manifesting a great talent for drawing in his boyhood, he was placed as a draughtsman in the lithographic works of Messrs. Day & Haghe. He soon became a pupil of Louis Haghe, the water-colour painter, and was a student at the Royal Academy in 1847. He exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1849, at the Academy in 1851, and in 1855 gained the enthusiastic praise of Ruskin by his picture, 'The Moorland,' painted in illustration of a famous passage in 'Locksley Hall.' His `White of Rylstone' was purchased by Mr. Ruskin. These were almost his only pictures connected by their titles with poetical fancy or legend, the landscapes which down to 1885 he continued, in spite of incessant discouragement, to contribute to the Academy, being chiefly topographical; and perhaps Ruskin's praise of his stern fidelity made him too merely literal a transcriber of nature. His best-known works are probably 'The Jungfrau' (1857), 'On the Lake of Thun' (1860), 'Tintagel' (1862), 'Gordale Scar' (1876), and 'Drifting' (1886); the last-named is in the possession of Mr. Coventry Patmore.

Inchbold was happy all his life in the friendship of poets and men of genius, which consoled him for the hostility of the Academy and the indifference of the public. His faults, especially the frequent hardness and chilliness of his general effects, contrasted with the over-brightness of particular portions, undoubtedly militated against the general attractiveness of his work; his failings were obtrusive, and the recognition of his merits demanded insight and sympathy. For fidelity, delicacy, and true though unadorned poetry of feeling, no painter of his day stood higher. Tennyson, Browning, Lord Houghton, and Sir Henry Thompson were among his admirers and supporters, and in Dr. Russell Reynolds he found a liberal and discriminating patron.

A year or two before his death he had returned from Algeria with a large collection of sketches, in which the ordinary defects of his manner were less apparent. He died suddenly of disease of the heart at Headingley, near Leeds, 23 Jan. 1888. His memory was shortly afterwards honoured by Mr. Swinburne in a funereal ode of surpassing beauty. Inchbold himself was a poet of considerable mark; the sonnets in his 'Annus Amoris,' 1877, are interesting tokens of a refined and poetical mind, though perhaps not one possesses the finish and concentration demanded by this most difficult form of composition.

[Athenæum, 4 February 1888; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28, Inchbold, John William by Richard Garnett]

Inchbold, John William (1830–1888), landscape painter, was born on 29 April 1830 in Leeds, one of at least two sons of Thomas Inchbold (c.1785–1832), one-time proprietor and editor of the Leeds Intelligencer, and his wife, Rachel, whose maiden name was probably Mawson. His father died when he was still a child, and from this time forward the family depended on a stationery and printing firm run by his mother. While still only fifteen or sixteen years old he moved to London to be apprenticed to the lithographic printers Day and Haghe. Soon after, he took up painting under the instruction of Louis Haghe, a Flemish-born artist who was a watercolourist as well as a lithographer; he may also have been enrolled in the Royal Academy Schools.

Inchbold's career as a professional artist began in 1849 when he exhibited sketches of Yorkshire coastal subjects at the Society of British Artists. Various of his early works are lost, but one surviving painting, "The Chapel, Bolton" (Northampton Museums and Art Gallery), shown at the Royal Academy in 1853, demonstrates Pre-Raphaelite principles of observation in its meticulous representation of vegetation and architecture and intense colour. By about 1854, he seems to have made contact with the Pre-Raphaelite circle of painters, being asked to join a sketching club then under discussion, and eliciting the support of John Everett Millais when his painting "Anstey's Cove" (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) was rejected by the selection committee of the Royal Academy. John Ruskin believed that Inchbold was among the most promising of the younger generation of landscape painters, and in Academy Notes -- his annual commentary on the exhibitions, published for the first time in 1855 -- he seized with enthusiasm on various of his works. "The Moorland": (Dewar-Stone, Dartmoor) (Tate collection), which appeared at the 1855 Royal Academy show, was, for example, "the only thoroughly good landscape in the rooms of the Academy … more exquisite in its finish of lichenous rock painting than any work I have ever seen". (E. T. Cook and A. Wedderburn, The Works of Ruskin, 39 vols., 1903–12,). Other paintings by Inchbold of the mid-1850s offer minutely detailed inspections of the forms of nature and at close range. For example, "Mid-Spring" (exhibited Royal Academy, 1856; private collection), ostensibly an illustration to Tennyson's poem "The Two Paths", shows a woodland floor with the dense textures of flowers and foliage spread upwards over the entire picture space.

Inchbold was one of a number of younger British landscape painters to be inspired to turn to mountain subjects by volume four of Ruskin's Modern Painters, which bore the subtitle ‘Of mountain beauty’ and which was published in the spring of 1856. In June of the same year Inchbold stayed with Ruskin at Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. The resulting painting, "Jungfrau", from the Wengern Alps, was shown at the Royal Academy in 1857, and later in the same year as part of a private exhibition in Leeds. It was praised by the Leeds Mercury as bearing "the minutest examination, and yet its high finish does not interfere with the general effect" (21 February 1857). Inchbold returned to the Alps in the autumn of 1857 to carry out a commission to make watercolour drawings of Swiss vernacular architecture for Ruskin. On this occasion he stayed for a while at Sallanches, France, where he painted "A By-Path to Chamouni". His oil painting "The Lake of Lucerne" (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), executed in the late summer of 1857, represents the fulfilment of his Pre-Raphaelite landscape style. In 1858, Ruskin and Inchbold were again in the Alps together, at Fluelen on Lake Lucerne, and later at Bellinzona in Ticino, but clearly their ideas about landscape painting were diverging: as the former looked increasingly for subjects which would edify and uplift their audience, the latter moved away from strict observation towards a style of landscape painting which was both more indulgent and more technically experimental. In consequence Ruskin turned to John Brett (whose adoption of a Pre-Raphaelite landscape style owed much to the influence of Inchbold) as an acolyte and tester of his own artistic theories.

In 1860, Inchbold stayed at Cornwood and then at Tintagel in Cornwall. Thomas Woolner, Francis Palgrave, and Alfred Tennyson encountered him there while they were on a walking tour, as described by Palgrave: "At a turn in the rocks [we met] that ever graceful, ill-appreciated landscapist Inchbold: whose cry of delighted wonder at sight of Tennyson still sounds in the sole survivor's ear" (H. Tennyson, Alfred Lord Tennyson - a Memoir by his Son, 1897). Inchbold's "King Arthur's Island", "Tintagel, Cornwall" (private collection) was inspired by this visit. In 1864, he returned to Cornwall, lodging at the schoolhouse in Boscastle and having as his guest Algernon Charles Swinburne who was then working on the poem ‘Atalanta in Calydon’.

In the period between his two stays in Cornwall, Inchbold lived in Venice, remaining there for about two years from the spring or summer of 1862. His Venetian subjects represent an original and challenging departure in the context of British landscape painting. Almost always avoiding familiar landmarks and yet remaining painstakingly accurate wherever a known topography occurred, works such as "From Saint Helena, Venice" (1863–4; private collection) treat the more obscure parts of the city or outlying islands of the Venetian lagoon in terms of abstract pattern and texture. He was particularly attracted to effects of atmosphere and half-light, and he was one of the first among his generation to explore the possibilities of city views at dusk in works such as "Venice from the Public Gardens" (c.1862–1864; private collection), which conjures the sights and sensations of the city and lagoon by evocative means rather than documentary ones.

Inchbold gained very little public recognition as an artist. His works were repeatedly rejected by the Royal Academy selection committees, and he depended for his livelihood on a small circle of patrons and friends, notably George Rae of Liverpool and James Leathart of Gateshead; even with these two sympathetic men relations were difficult. In 1863, Inchbold had participated in an exhibition of paintings refused by the Royal Academy which was held at the Cosmopolitan Club in Charles Street, and in 1868, his friend and patron Dr John Russell Reynolds set up a display of his paintings in his house in Grosvenor Street. On two occasions, in 1885 and 1887, works by Inchbold were shown at the Grosvenor Gallery. He also wrote poems, often on landscape themes, a collection of which appeared under the title Annus amoris in 1876.

Periodic financial crises were the cause of concern among Inchbold's circle of friends, and in 1868, he was forced to give up the studio in Lincoln's Inn Fields which he had occupied since 1857. D. G. Rossetti's unkind limerick" There is a mad artist named Inchbold
With whom you must be at a pinch bold:
Or else you may score
The brass plate on your door
With the name of J. W. Inchbold
(D. G. Rossetti, Rossetti Papers, ed. W. M. Rossetti, 1903) presumably dates from this period of near indigence. From 1869, onward Inchbold stayed at the Charing Cross Hotel in London but spent long periods on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere, finding country lodgings cheaper than accommodation in London. He also continued to travel abroad, reaching north Africa in 1876, and then in 1879, moving semi-permanently to Switzerland; here he was once again inspired to paint mountains and lakes, and with a new ethereal and serene quality. In 1886-7 he made his last long painting tour, exploring the Mediterranean coast from the south of France to Naples. He died, unmarried, on 23 January 1888 while staying at his sister's house, 13 Ebberstone Terrace, Headingley, Leeds. He was buried on 25 January in Woodhouse cemetery, Leeds. A. C. Swinburne's poem ‘In Memory of John William Inchbold’ (first published in an issue of The Athenaeum in December 1888) paid tribute to the artist, Swinburne recalling the stay in Cornwall the two had made together in 1864.

[F. G. Stephens, The Athenaeum (4 Feb 1888), Dictionary of National Biography; Loan exhibition of works by G. J. Pinwell, Sam Bough and J. W. Inchbold, exhibition catalogue, Royal Water-Colour Society Art Club

INCHBOLD, John William, painter and etcher, born at Leeds, April 29, 1830. was the son of Mr. Thomas Inchbold, editor and proprietor of the Leeds Intelligencer. He was educated in his native town, and showing a strong taste for drawing, was sent to London to be trained as a draughtsman in Messrs. Day and Haghe's lithographic works. About 1847 he began the study of water-colours under Mr. Louis Haghe. His first exhibited works were 'Sheep's Tor, Dartmoor,' and 'The Dewer Stone, Dartmoor,' which he sent to the Suffolk Street Gallery in 1849.

He early became an adherent of Pre-Raphaelism, his works being distinguished by a laborious accuracy and minuteness. In 1851 he exhibited two water-colours at the Academy, and in 1855 his contribution, 'The Moorland,' was the subject of a warm panegyric from Mr. Ruskin in his notes on that year's Academy. As his powers developed the painter gradually acquired a larger and more sympathetic manner, retaining the sentiment which distinguished his early works, and showing much power in the treatment of mountain distances and effects of atmospiiere.

He etched a considerable number of plates, though few were published, and was favourably known in the literary world as the author of a volume of poems, 'Annus Amoris,' published in 1877.

His pictures were very careful and minute copies of nature, his subjects chosen apparently without selection, and his colouring brilliant and yet delicate. His work was very highly praised by Ruskin who greatly admired its truth, but the poetic quality about it is perhaps its leading characteristic, and the charm of its low-toned and yet vivacious colouring is remarkable. Inchbold must be claimed as one of those whose sympathies were with the Pre-Raphaelite school, and the extreme care wliich he took in rendering natural objects proves this, but he was able to avoid the pitfalls which led to the confusion of some of the earlier exponents of this school by reason of hie wider outlook upon nature and his capability to see poetic possibilities in the very simplest landscape.

He was a fine painter of the sky and sea, loved especially mountains and hills, but rejoiced also in the open commonland of Yorkshire, from which he painted what is perhaps his greatest picture, called 'The Moorland.' There are a number of his finest works, filling one entire room, at Red Court, Birkenhead, the residence of Mrs. Rae. He died suddenly of heart disease at liis sister's house at Headingly, near Leeds, January 23, 1888.

Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, 1876 - Reprinted, 1894, 1899


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