Craven, Hawes (DNB12)
|←Craigie, Pearl Mary Teresa||Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement
|Craven, Henry Thornton→|
CRAVEN, HAWES (1837–1910), scene-painter, whose full name was Henry Hawes Craven Green, was born at Kirkgate, Leeds, on 3 July 1837. His father, James Green (d. 1881), at first a publican of Leeds and amateur pugilist, became known as a comedian and pantomimist. His mother, Elizabeth Craven, was an actress, who left the stage, and published several volumes of prose and verse. As a boy young Craven acted with his father on tour, but early evincing an artistic bent, attended the school of design at Marl borough House (1851-3), where he won numerous prizes. Apprenticed in 1853 to John Gray, scene-painter of the Britannia Theatre, Hoxton, he passed with him to the Olympic Theatre, and provided in his absence through illness the scenery for Wilkie Collins's drama 'The Lighthouse' (23 July 1857). His work won the approval of Clarkson Stanfield [q. v.], who had painted the scenery, when the piece was originally produced by Charles Dickens and other amateurs. Subsequently Craven worked with William Roxby Beverley [q. v. Suppl. I] at Drury Lane and Covent Garden. From 1862 to 1864 he was principal scene-painter at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, where, according to Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, an eye-witness, his work possessed all 'the breadth and effect of rich water-colour drawings somewhat of the Prout school.' In the summer vacation of 1863 and again in 1864 he worked for Fechter at the Lyceum on some elaborate set scenes, after the new mode of mounting plays which Fechter inaugurated.
From Dublin Craven passed successively to the Olympic (under Horace Wigan), where he distinguished himself by his scenery for 'The Frozen Deep' (October 1864), and to the Adelphi (under Benjamin Webster). He soon increased his reputation by his work for 'Play' and 'School,' both produced at the Prince of Wales's Theatre (15 Feb. 1868, and Jan. 1869), and by 'The Enchanted Isle' in the Covent Garden pantomime of 'Robinson Crusoe' (December 1868).
In 1871 Craven joined H. L. Bateman [q. v.] at the Lyceum, but his opportunities were restricted, until Henry Irving became lessee and manager in 1 878. Inexpensive as Irving's opening production of 'Hamlet' (30 December 1878) was, Craven's scenery was notable for its construction and deft mechanical arrangement. In succeeding years Craven, harmoniously co-operating with Irving, carried scenic realism and stage illusion to the full limit of legitimate artistic expression, and he turned to advantage the newly introduced electric lighting, which compelled a readjustment of old methods of distemper painting. Among his early triumphs at the Lyceum was his grandiose interior of the Temple of Artemis in 'The Cup' (3 Jan. 1881), from a design by Sir James Knowles. In 'Romeo and Juliet' (8 March 1882) he gave the effect of the clear blue Italian sky by using a new pigment of his own invention. For his scenes in Irving's production of 'Faust' (19 Dec. 1886) he visited Nuremberg and the Hartz mountains with admirable results. Sound work followed for 'Macbeth' (December 1888), 'King Henry VIII' (January 1892), 'King Lear' (10 Nov.), Tennyson's 'Becket' (February 1893), 'King Arthur' under Burne-Jones's direction (January 1895), and finally for 'Coriolanus' from the designs of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (15 April 1902), when Craven's long association with Irving closed.
Meanwhile London scene-painters had ceased to be salaried employes of the theatre, and Craven worked on contract for Irving, who employed other scenic artists along with him. But he rented the Lyceum scene-loft for his studio, and there he painted for many managers in addition. For the Savoy Theatre he worked on the 'Mikado' (14 March 1885) and 'Utopia, Limited' (7 Oct. 1893). For (Sir) Herbert Beerbohm Tree at Her Majesty's he provided scenes for 'King John' (29 Sept. 1899), 'Twelfth Night' (February 1901), and Mr. Stephen Pliillips's 'Ulysses' (February 1902). In September 1902 he painted two scenes for the revival of 'As you Like It' at the Prince's Theatre, Manchester. His last work of note was done for Mr. Bourchier's revival of 'The Merchant of Venice' at the Garrick (October 1905). In the same year he was elected president of the Scenic Artists' Association.
Craven died at his residence, Fairlight, 246 Brockley Road, S.E., on 22 July 1910, and was buried at Brockley. By his marriage in 1866 with Maria Elizabeth Watson Lees (1838-1891), a premiere danseuse, he left three sons and three daughters. Mr. Alfred E. Craven, the second eldest surviving son, was for sixteen years his father's pupil-assistant and partner.
Craven was probably the greatest scene-painter of his century. The equal of Stanfield and Beverley in craftsmanship and imagination, he excelled both in the capacity to adapt his knowledge to the needs of the stage. As scenic innovator he ranks with Loutherbourg. He was the first to demonstrate that tones thrown upon the scene by phantasmagoric lights are subtler in atmospheric effect than tones wholly expressed by paint on canvas. He painted his Lyceum scenery with a view to the particular kind of light it was to bear. He excelled in landscape, and, in Ellen Terry's words, 'could paint the nicker of golden sunshine for the stage better than anyone.'
[The Bancroft Memoirs, 1909 ; Percy Fitzgerald's Sir Henry Irving, 1895; Alfred Darbyshire's The Art of the Victorian Stage, 1907; Joseph Hatton's The Lyceum Faust, 1886 ; Journal of the Society of Arts, 1887, vol. xxxv. No. 1791 ; Bram Stoker's Sir Henry Irving, 1907; Magazine of Art, Jan. 1889 ; Scottish Art Review, Feb. 1889 ; Idler, March 1893 ; Architectural Review, July
1901 ; Era, 8 Oct. 1904 ; Manchester Guardian, 27 July 1910 ; Stage and Dublin Evening Telegraph, 28 July 1910 ; private information.]