Boddington, Henry John (DNB00)

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BODDINGTON, HENRY JOHN (1811–1865), artist, the second son of Edward Williams and his wife Anne, née Hildebrand, was born in London, of a very large family of artists. His paternal grandfather, Edward Williams, an engraver, married a sister of James Ward, R.A., the animal painter, and hence he was related to George Morland, R.A., and H. B. Chalon, who married other sisters of James Ward, and to John Jackson, R.A., who married that artist's daughter. A son of this engraver, also named Edward Williams, who, after a brief period of apprenticeship to a carver and gilder, established himself as an artist, was the father of seven sons, who all became landscape painters. To avoid confusion with their relatives and other artists of the same name, the second, fifth, and sixth of these sons took the names of (Henry John) Boddington, (Arthur) Gilbert, and (Sidney) Percy respectively.

Boddington was trained in no school; what teaching he had he received from his father, in whose studio he worked from childhood. In 1832, when just of age, he married Clara Boddington, whose name he adopted. After a few years of great poverty and struggle he became a very prosperous artist. He lived first at Pentonville, removed thence to Fulham, thence to Hammersmith, and finally in 1854 to Barnes. His earliest pictures were studied from the scenery of Surrey and the banks of the Thames. Work of his was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837, and from 1839 onwards one or two pictures by him were exhibited there every year until his death and four years after it. The rooms of the Society of British Artists in Suffolk Street, however, received the greater number of his productions. His name appears for the first time in the catalogue for 1837. In 1842 he became a member of the society, and afterwards exhibited there an average of ten pictures every year until his death. In 1843 he visited Devonshire, staying at Ashburton; in 1846 the English lakes; and in 1847, for the first time, North Wales, which, especially the country around Bettws and Dolgelly, was afterwards his favourite working-ground. He also painted in Scotland, Yorkshire, and other parts of England, but the subjects of most of his pictures are in the districts already named. He was never on the continent. Boddington preserved such a general level of passable merit that no one picture can be selected as excelling in a remarkable degree. He is not represented in any of the public galleries, nor—except one or two as woodcuts in the 'Illustrated London News' have any of his works been engraved. He has perhaps more affinity with Constable than with any other of the leaders of our landscape art. His paintings are mostly taken from quiet English country life. He was a very rapid sketcher.

Boddington was of a humorous, amiable, and manly character. After suffering for several years from a progressive disease of the brain, he died at his house at Barnes 11 April 1865. His only child, Edwin Boddington, and several of his nephews are painters, and carry on the family tradition to another generation.

[Information from Mr. H. S. Percy; Our Living Painters (London, 1859); Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School.]

W. H-h.