Samuel Phillips Jackson

(4 September 1830 - 27 January 1904)

Landscape and marine painter born in Clifton, the son and pupil of Samuel Jackson, Associate of the Old Watercolour Society (1794-1869). S.P. Jackson's earliest works were mainly in oils however after his election as an Associate of the Old Watercolour Society in 1853, he practised almost entirely in watercolour. He contributed annually to their exhibitions and became a full member of the Society in 1876. He also exhibited at the British Institution from 1851-57, and the Royal Academy from 1852-81. The artist moved from Clifton to Streatley-on-Thames in 1870, and in 1876, to Henley, later returning to his hometown of Clifton. He made a Continental tour in 1858, accompanied by his father, but otherwise his subjects were mostly coastal scenes in Devon and Cornwall and a few scenes in the Channel Islands and Wales. After his move to Henley in 1876, he chiefly painted Welsh views and the Thames Valley. His work won the praise of John Ruskin who, writing in 1856, complimented Jackson on his "perception of the phenomenon of sea and sky".

© Copyright Ownership: Atelier, 17th-20th Century Paintings

SAMUEL PHILLIPS JACKSON (1830-1904), water-colour artist, born at Bristol, was only son of four children of Samuel Jackson [q. v.], landscape-painter, by his wife Jane Phillips. One sister married Mr. Roeckel, musical composer; another is Mrs. Ada Villiers, a musician. He received early instruction in art from his father at Bristol, and studied figure drawing at the life school of the academy there. Among his early Bristol friends were James Francis Danby [q. v.] and Charles Branwhite [q. v.]. He soon directed his attention mainly to land- and sea-scape, and first exhibited in London at the age of twenty.

In 1851, his 'Dismasted Ship off the Welsh Coast' was shown at the British Institution, where between that year and 1857, he exhibited nine pictures. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1852, and from that year to 1881, sent eight paintings and eight drawings. On 14 February 1853, he was made associate of the Royal Water Colour Society, and henceforth confined himself to water colours, sending the maximum number of pictures -- eight a year -- to each summer exhibition of the society until 1876, when he was elected full member.

By 1881, he had sent some 500 works to the winter and summer exhibitions. His earlier works, mainly in oils, showed a preference for Devon and Cornish coast scenes, and many of them won the praise of Ruskin. His 'Coast of North Devon' (British Institution) was bought by Mr. Bicknell. The more important were 'A Roadstead after a Gale, Twilight' (R.A 1852), 'Towing a Disabled Vessel' (R.A. 1852), 'Hazy Mormng on the Coast of Devon' (1853), (the two latter now in Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington), 'A Summer Day on the Coast' (1855), 'The Breakwater and Chapel Rock, Bude,' and 'The Sands at Bude' (1856), 'Dartmouth Harbour' (1858), 'On the Hamoaze, Plymouth' (1858, now at South Kensington), 'Styhead Tarn, Cumberiand' (1858), and 'A Dead Calm Far at Sea' (1858). A tour in Switzerland in 1858, with his father produced his 'Lake of Thun -- Evening,' exhibited in 1859. Other sea-scapes followed, viz. 'Bamborough' in 1850, 'Whitby Pier in a Gale' in 1863, and 'St. Ives' Pier' in 1864.

In 1856, he removed to Streatley-on-Thames, Reading, and subsequently to Henley-on-Thames. Thenceforward he chiefly devoted himself to views of the Thames. 'The Thames at Wargrave, Midday' (now at South Kensington) is dated 1866, and 'The Thames from Streatley Bridge' 1868.

Jackson's strength lay in firm and careful execution, and in restrained harmonies of tone and colour . In such early work as his 'Hazy Morning on the Coast of Devon' he favoured restful sunlight effects. His handling of grey mist and clouds always skilfully interpreted the placid west country atmosphere. Jackson had other than artistic interests. He was keenly interested in photography, and invented an instantaneous shutter for which he gained a medal from the Royal Photographic Society. He moved in later life to Bristol and died unmarried at his residence there, 62 Clifton Park Road, on 27 January 1904.

[The Times, 2 February 1904; Athenæum, 6 February 1904; J. L. Roget, Hist, of the Old Water Colour Society, 1891; Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Water Colour Paintings, 1908; Graves's Royal Academy Exhibitors and British Institution Exhibitors; The 'Old' Water Colour Society in Studio, Spring number, 1905; Ruskin Academy Notes, ed. Cook and Wedderburn, 1904; Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, Vol. II, 1912, by W. B. Owen.]

Samuel Phillips Jackson (1830-1904), watercolour painter, was born in Bristol on 4 September 1830, the only son and the eldest of the four children of Samuel Jackson (1794–1869), also a watercolour painter, and his wife, Jane Phillips (b. 1797/8). He had no formal training but would certainly have both watched and worked closely with his father, and he is known to have attended the life class of the Bristol Fine Arts Academy, of which he was elected a member in December 1850. His earlier works were mostly in oil.

Jackson first exhibited in London in 1851 at the British Institution, and in the following year exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time. Then, in 1853, after showing six watercolours at the Old Watercolour Society, he became, at twenty-two, the youngest person ever elected a member of that society. Henceforth he worked almost exclusively in watercolour, exhibiting a total of 841 pictures at the society's exhibitions -- perhaps more than any other artist; he was elected a full member in 1876. His subjects were mainly coastal scenes in Wales, Devon, and Cornwall. There were also views of the Thames, and he exhibited views of the Lake District in 1857, and 1858, and of the Yorkshire coast in 1863. Only a very small number of views in Switzerland resulted from his visit there in 1858, with his father.

From the early 1850s Jackson's watercolours show exceptional technical accomplishment, blending precise detail with considerable breadth of handling. J. L. Roget aptly observed that they are "remarkable for clean handling and sober harmony of colour, in which the moist vapours of our west country are suggested by the use of well-concocted greys". Roget noted Jackson's friendship with the Bristol artist Charles Branwhite, whose use of opaque white may well have influenced him; Roget also mentions the landscape painter Francis Danby as a personal friend of Jackson's. Subsequent writers have assumed this to be a confusion with James Francis Danby, one of Danby's sons; however, Jackson based an early watercolour of 1852, on Danby's oil painting, 'An Enchanted Island' (1824) and it was certainly Jackson who photographed his father and Danby in the garden at Cambridge Place, Clifton, about 1855. There is a fine watercolour by Jackson of Danby's last home at Exmouth (1856). His more ambitious exhibition watercolours -- of sunsets, storms, and shipwrecks (which can be rather grandiose) -- may well have been inspired by Danby's later oil paintings. His work continued to be based on fresh observation, however, becoming softer in colour, broader in handling, and less reliant on technical virtuosity.

From 1835, Jackson lived at 1 Cambridge Place (now 8 Canynge Square), Clifton, with his family. Only in 1870, the year following his father's death, did he move from the parental home to Rose Cottage, Streatley-on-Thames, near Reading. For the next two years he was seriously ill. In 1876 he moved to 1 River View Terrace, Henley-on-Thames; his elegant steam launch, Ethel, was a familiar sight on the river.

In 1888, Jackson returned to Clifton, where his three sisters lived. Isabella, now Mrs Wightwick, had been a teacher of flower painting. Jane was a pianist and a composer of piano music under the name Jules Sivrai; she had married the well-known composer J. L. Roeckel. The youngest sister, Mrs Ada Villiers, had been a teacher of singing and was herself well known locally as a vocalist. Jackson, who reputedly was a brilliant pianist, was also a skilled amateur mechanic and a successful photographer who exhibited widely and earned a prize from the Royal Photographic Society for the invention of an instantaneous shutter. His principal obituarist described him as punctilious, considerate, and generous.

Jackson, who never married, died at his home, 62 Clifton Park Road, Clifton, on 27 January 1904, and was buried at Arnos Vale cemetery. His closest companions had been his dogs, and he left bequests to two canine charities. Examples of his work are in the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, and in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

[Western Daily Press (2 February1904); Biographia, A Record of Public Men: past and present -- home and abroad, Vol. 1, pt 3, (Newhaven, Sussex, c.1895); H. S. Thompson, Bygone Bristol Artists, Bristol Times and Mirror (12 December 1925)Dictionary of Nation Biography; Sale catalogue (1906), drawings and sketches -Alexander, Daniel & Co., Bristol, 28 June 1906-; J. L. Roget, A history of the ‘Old Water-Colour’ Society, 1891); Graves, Royall Academy Exhibitors; The Royal Watercolour Society: the first fifty years, 1805–1855; Census Returns, 1851; Oxford University Press.]


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