Willmore, James Tibbitts (DNB00)

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WILLMORE, JAMES TIBBITTS (1800–1863), line engraver, was born in 1800 at Erdington, near Handsworth, where his father, James Willmore, was a manufacturer of silver articles. He was apprenticed at Birmingham to William Radclyffe [q. v.], and, marrying at the age of twenty-two, came to London, where he worked for three years as assistant to Charles Heath (1785–1818) [q. v.] The earliest important works on which he was engaged were Turner's ‘England and Wales,’ 1827–38, and Brockedon's ‘Passes of the Alps,’ 1828–9; and his first large plate was executed from Eastlake's picture of ‘Byron's Dream,’ 1834. Willmore was extremely successful in translating the work of Turner, who greatly appreciated his abilities, and his plates from that artist's ‘Mercury and Argus,’ ‘Ancient Italy,’ ‘The Golden Bough,’ ‘Oberwesel,’ ‘The Old Temeraire,’ ‘Venice’ (engraved for the Art Union, 1858), and ‘Childe Harold's Pilgrimage’ (Art Union, 1861), are among the finest examples of modern landscape work. Some of these he re-engraved on a smaller scale for the ‘Art Journal.’ The ‘Mercury and Argus’ was a joint speculation on the part of Turner and Willmore. His other large works include ‘Ruins of Carthage,’ after W. Linton (for Finden's ‘Gallery of British Art’); ‘Crossing the Bridge,’ after E. Landseer, 1847; ‘Highland Ferry,’ after J. Thompson, 1848; ‘Villa of Lucullus,’ after Leitch (Art Union, 1851); ‘Wind against Tide,’ after C. Stanfield; ‘Harvest in the Highlands,’ after Landseer and Callcott (Art Union, 1856); and ‘Nearest Way in Summer Time,’ after Creswick and Ansdell, 1860. Willmore's small book illustrations are also very numerous and beautiful. In 1843 he exhibited at the Royal Academy a proof of his ‘Ancient Italy,’ and was then elected an associate engraver. Throughout his life he was one of the most active members of the Artists’ Annuity and Benevolent funds. Willmore died on 12 March 1863, and was buried in the Highgate cemetery.

Arthur Willmore (1814–1888), born at Birmingham on 6 June 1814, was a brother of James Tibbitts Willmore, by whom he was trained. He became an able line engraver, excelling chiefly in landscape work. He was extensively employed on book illustrations, and also executed many plates for the ‘Art Journal’ from pictures by Collins, Cooke, Creswick, Rubens, Stanfield, Turner, Van Dyck, and others. His most important work was ‘The Return of the Lifeboat,’ after E. Duncan, engraved for the Art Union, 1878. Willmore frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1858 and 1885. He died on 3 Nov. 1888.

[Art Journal, 1863; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1893; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Armstrong.]

F. M. O'D.