George Lance

(24 March 1802 - 18 June 1864)

English painter of still life and portrait miniatures; was born at the old manor-house in Little Easton in Essex. His father was William Lance who had previously served in a regiment of light horse and was at the time of Lance's birth an adjutant in the Essex yeomanry; he later became the inspector of the Bow Street horse-patrol. His mother, Louisa Lucy (née) Constable, with whom his father had eloped from boarding-school, was the daughter of Colonel Constable of Beverley in Yorkshire.

Although Lance showed a predilection for art at a very early age, he was placed, while not yet fourteen, in a factory in Leeds. However, the work injured his health and he returned to London. Wandering one day into the British Museum, he casually started a conversation with Charles Landseer, who happened to be drawing there. On learning that Landseer was a pupil of Benjamin Haydon, he went early next morning to that painter's residence, and asked to become a pupil. Haydon replied that if his drawings promised future success he would instruct him for nothing. Not many days later Lance, still not yet fourteen, entered Haydon's studio, and remained there for seven years, at the same time studying in the schools of the Royal Academy.

While designing a picture inspired by Homer's Iliad, he decided, before putting on the colours, to paint some fruit and vegetables as practice. This work attracted the notice of Sir George Beaumont, who purchased it, and this success led him to paint another fruit-piece, which he sold to the Earl of Shaftesbury. He then painted two fruit-pieces for the Duke of Bedford as decorations for a summer-house at Woburn Abbey, and his work proved so profitable that he decided to devote himself to still-life painting.

He began to exhibit in 1824, when he sent to the British Institution "A Fruit Boy", and to the Society of British Artists, "The Mischievous Boy", and two fruit-pieces. In 1828, he exhibited the Royal Academy, for the first time. showing a still-life with an appended quotation from Samuel Butler's Hudibras:
"Goose, rabbit, pheasant, pigeons, all
With good brown jug for beer not small!"

Although he gained his reputation chiefly as a painter of fruit and flowers, Lance sometimes produced historical and genre works, and his picture of "Melanchthon's First Misgivings of the Church of Rome" won the prize at the Liverpool Academy in 1836. His works appeared most frequently at the exhibitions of the British Institution, to which he contributed 135 pictures, and he also sent 48 works to the Society of British Artists, and 38 to the Royal Academy.

Besides these he exhibited many fruit-pieces and pictures of dead game, painted with great richness of colour and truthfulness to nature. The National Gallery possesses 'A Basket of Fruit, Pineapple, and Bird's Nest.' 'Red Cap,' a replica of the picture painted in 1847, 'Fruit: Pineapple, Grapes, and Melon, etc.,' and 'A Fruit Piece,' the three first of which belong to the Vernon collection. Two fruit-pieces and a portrait of himself, painted about 1830, are in the South Kensington Museum.

Lance died at the residence of his son - Sunnyside, near Birkenhead. His most distinguished pupils were Sir John Gilbert and William Duffield, the latter an artist of great promise who died young in 1863.

[Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 32, by Robert Edmund Graves; Art Journal, 1867; Redgraves' Century of Painters of the English School, 1890; Descriptive and Historical Catalog of Pictures in the National Gallery, British and Modern Schools, 1889; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1828-62; British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Living Artists), 1824-62; Sir Sidney Lee, English biographer and critic.]

His Works include:
The Wine Cooler (1831) The Brothers (1837)
Captain Rolando showing to Gil Blas, 'the Treasures of the Cave' (1839)
May I have this? (1840) The Ballad (1841)
Narcissus (1841) The Microscope (1842)
The Village Coquette (1843) The Grandmother's Blessing (1844)
The Biron Conspiracy (1845) Preparations for a Banquet (1846)
From the Garden, just gathered (1847) From the Lake, just shot (1847)
Red Cap, a monkey with a red cap (1847) Modern Fruit Medieval Art (1850)
The Blonde and The Brunette (1851) The Seneschal (painted for Sir Morton Peto, 1852)
Harold (1855) Fair and Fruitful Italy (1857)
Beautiful in Death, a peacock (1857) The Peacock at Home (1858)
The Golden Age (1859) A Sunny Bank (1861)
A Gleam of Sunshine (1862) The Burgomaster's Dessert (1862)

LANCE, George, painter of still-life subjects and fruit and flower-pieces, was born at the Manor House of Little Easton, in Essex, March 24, 1802. His father had served in a cavalry regiment, and eloped with his mother (nee Constable) from a boarding-school. He was first placed in a manufactory at Leeds, but disliking the work, and having artistic ambitions, he returned to London. A chance meeting with Landseer, then studying under Haydon, decided him to call on that painter, who took him into his studio as an apprentice. Here he remained for seven years, studying at the same time at the Academy schools. A study of fruit painted as a trial of colouring was bought by Sir George Beaumont, and Lance painted a second, which also was sold. He then began to devote himself to this class of subject, being employed, amongst other commissions, on the decorations at Woburn Abbey.

In 1824, he began to exhibit, first at the British Institute and Society of British Artists, and in 1828, at the Royal Academy, varying his still-life subjects with occasional genre or historical pictures, one of which, 'Melanchthon's First Misgivings of the Church,' gained the annual award of the Liverpool Academy for the best picture in 1837. His exhibited works were very numerous, and included 135 at the British Institution, 48 at the Society of British Artists, and 38 at the Royal Academy. A portrait of himself, painted at about the age of 30, is in the South Kensington Museum. Lance took a certain number of pupils, amongst whom Sir John Gilbert was the most prominent. He lived for some time at New Brighton, near Liverpool, and died at the residence of his son, in Birkenhead.

Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves, 1886-9.

George Lance, (Brit.) (1802-1864). Pupil of Haydon and of the School of the Royal Academy. Lance was a very successful painter of still-life, his works being in the possession of many noble families of England. He executed a few historical and figure pieces, but was famous for his fruits and flowers. Among the former may be mentioned, "The Coquette," "The Lady in Waiting," and "Melancthon's First Misgiving of the Church of Rome." In 1860, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, "Full Ripe"; in 1861, "A Sunny Bank"; and in 1862, "A Gleam of Sunshine." Three of his pictures (in the Vernon Collection) are in the National Gallery, London, -- " A Basket of Fruit," painted in 1834; "Red Cap," exhibited at the British Institution in 1847; and "Fruit" (a pineapple, grapes, melon, etc.), painted in 1848.

"Lance was occasionally blamed for exaggeration of color, but his delineation was delicate and his grouping agreeable." -- Mrs. Tytler's Modern Painters.

Artists of the Nineteenth Century, their Works, Biographical Sketches, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton. 1879.

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