A Century of British Painters

By Samuel Redgrave; Richard Redgrave | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
THE SUCCESSORS OF REYNOLDS

THE first successor to Reynolds in priority of date was Nathaniel Dance, R.A., who is best known in art by this name, though he afterwards became Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bart. He was the son of the city surveyor, and was born in London in 1734. He began the study of art under Frank Hayman, and sought to improve himself in Italy. Here he remained eight or nine years, and travelled With the fair paintress, Angelica Kauffmann, with whom gossip said he was hopelessly in love. On his return to England he distinguished himself by his portraits and as a history painter, exhibiting a 'Death of Virginia' with the Society of Artists in 1761. Among his paintings may be mentioned ' Garrick as Richard III', ' Timon of Athens', in the Royal Collection, 'Captain Cook', at Greenwich Hospital, and at Up-Park, Sussex, fine full-lengths of George III and his young Queen. Dance's portraits were carefully and solidly painted, well drawn, and passable in colour. Northcote says, 'He drew the figure well, gave a strong likeness and certain studied air to all his portraits; yet they were so stiff and forced that they seemed as if just out of a vice'. His works, however, held a place in art which entitles them at least to brief mention. He was one of the original members of the Royal Academy, and resigned his diploma in 1790, on his marriage with a widow lady of large property. He afterwards took the name of Holland, was created a baronet in 1800, and for many years represented the borough of East Grinstead in Parliament. He virtually quitted his profession when he left the Academy, but he afterwards exhibited some landscapes which showed great ability.

James Northcote, R.A., fills a much larger space in the history of art. He was the son of a watchmaker at Plymouth, where he was born 22 October 1746, and though he showed an early attachment to art, was, by his prudent father, bound his apprentice and learnt his trade. During the long seven years of his apprenticeship he gave his spare time to drawing and, on their termination, devoted himself wholly to art. He began by portrait painting, and contrived so far to make his art known in Plymouth as to gain the notice of Dr. John Mudge, and, through him, an introduction to Sir Joshua Reynolds. This was,

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