Cranch, John (DNB00)

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CRANCH, JOHN (1751–1821), painter, born at Kingsbridge, Devonshire, 12 Oct. 1751, taught himself as a boy drawing, writing, and music, and while a clerk at Axminster also received instruction from a catholic priest. Inheriting some money, he came to London and painted portraits and historical pictures. He failed, however, to get a place on the walls of the Academy, but was more successful at the Society of Artists, to which he contributed ‘Burning of the Albion Mills,’ and at the British Institution, to which he contributed eight pictures in 1808. His best picture was ‘The Death of Chatterton,’ now in the possession of Sir James Winter Lake, bart., who also owns a portrait of Cranch, which was engraved by John Thomas Smith. He is said to have excelled in ‘poker-pictures,’ and to have been befriended by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds in his youth had received valuable assistance from a Mr. and Mrs. Cranch of Plympton, Devonshire, who were doubtless relatives of John Cranch. After residing many years at Bath, Cranch died there in his seventieth year in February 1821. He published two works—‘On the Economy of Testaments’ (1794), and ‘Inducements to promote the Fine Arts of Great Britain by exciting Native Genius to independent Effort and original Design’ (1811). There is a picture by him in the South Kensington Museum.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1880; Gent. Mag. (1821), xci. 189; Catalogues of the British Institution, &c.]

L. C.