Parker, Henry Perlee (DNB00)

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PARKER, HENRY PERLEE (1795–1873), artist, son of Robert Parker, of Plymouth Dock, teacher of marine and mechanical drawing, was born at Devonport on 15 March 1795. He was trained by his father, but felt cramped in his occupation, and in 1815 married a Miss Amy Morfey of Woodbridge, Suffolk, and set up as a portrait-painter in the Three Towns. He met with little success, migrated to the north, and in 1816 settled at Newcastle. He made his mark on Tyneside by a picture of ‘Newcastle Eccentrics,’ representing a group of well-known characters identified with the street life of the town. In 1817 he began exhibiting in London at the British Institution, and shortly afterwards made the acquaintance of Thomas Miles Richardson [q. v.] Out of this intimacy sprang in 1822 ‘The Northumberland Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts,’ of which Richardson was treasurer and Parker secretary. He did not confine himself to portraits, but painted historical and marine subjects, and excelled in smugglers, whence the sobriquet ‘Smuggler Parker.’ His pictures were remarkable for their selling powers, a fact largely due to a fortunate choice of subjects. Two large pieces, ‘The Sandhill Wine Pant—coronation of George IV,’ and ‘Fancy Dress Ball in the Mansion House—coronation of William IV,’ were purchased by the corporation of Newcastle. The opening of the new markets at Newcastle in 1835, and the brave deed of Grace Darling in 1838, also formed the subjects of popular pictures by Parker. In 1835 Parker issued ‘Critiques on Paintings by H. P. Parker … together with a few slight Etchings showing the Compositions,’ &c., Newcastle. In 1840 he presented a representation of the rescue of John Wesley from the fire at Epworth in 1709 to the Wesleyan conference, to be placed in the Centenary Hall, London. Shortly afterwards he was appointed drawing-master at Wesley College, Sheffield, and left Newcastle for that town. On the death of his first wife in 1844 he settled in London, and, having remarried, survived his second wife, and died on 11 Nov. 1873. He had issue fourteen children, of whom at present only one daughter, Mrs. H. Perlee Livingstone, survives. Between 1817 and 1863 Parker exhibited eighty-six pictures in London, of which twenty-three were in the Royal Academy.

[Welford's Men of Mark 'twixt Tyne and Tweed, 1895, iii. 249; Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, 22 Aug. 1891 (with portrait), and 3–8 Nov. 1894; the Rev. James Everett's Memoirs; Graves's Dict. of Artists, p. 177; information kindly furnished by W. W. Tomlinson, esq.]

T. S.