Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Neale, John Preston

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NEALE, JOHN PRESTON (1780–1847), architectural draughtsman, was born in 1780. Neale's earliest works were drawings of insects, and the statement that his father was a painter of insects seems due to a misinterpretation of this fact. While in search of specimens in Hornsey Wood in the spring of 1796, Neale met John Varley [q. v.] the water-colour painter, and commenced a friendship which lasted through life. Together they projected a work to be entitled ‘The Picturesque Cabinet of Nature,’ for which Varley was to make the landscape drawings, and Neale was to etch and colour the plates. No. 1 was published on 1 Sept. 1796, but no more appeared. In 1797 Neale exhibited at the Royal Academy two drawings of insects, and sent others in 1799, 1801, and 1803. Meanwhile he was discharging the duties of a clerk in the General Post Office, but eventually resigned his appointment in order to devote his whole time to art. In 1804 he sent to the Royal Academy a drawing of the ‘Custom House, Dover,’ and continued to exhibit topographical drawings and landscapes until 1844. He contributed also to the exhibitions of the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours in 1817 and 1818, and from time to time to those of the British Institution and of the Society of British Artists. Some of his works were in oil-colours; but his reputation rests on his architectural drawings, which are executed carefully with the pen and tinted with water-colours. In 1816 he commenced the publication of the ‘History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster,’ which was completed in 1823, in two quarto volumes, with descriptive text by Edward W. Brayley. He next began, in 1818, his ‘Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland,’ of which the first series, in six volumes, was completed in 1824. The second series, in five volumes, was published between 1824 and 1829, and the entire work comprised no less than seven hundred and thirty-two plates. He likewise in 1824–5 undertook, in collaboration with John Le Keux [q. v.], the engraver, the publication of ‘Views of the most interesting Collegiate and Parochial Churches in Great Britain,’ but the work was discontinued after the issue of the second volume. Besides these works he published ‘Six Views of Blenheim, Oxfordshire,’ 1823; ‘Graphical Illustrations of Fonthill Abbey,’ 1824; and ‘An Account of the Deep-Dene in Surrey, the seat of Thomas Hope, Esq.,’ 1826. Many other works contain illustrations from his pen and pencil.

Neale died at Tattingstone, near Ipswich, on 14 Nov. 1847, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. The South Kensington Museum has a drawing by him of ‘Staplehurst, Kent,’ made in 1830.

[Ipswich Express, 23 Nov. 1847; Gent. Mag. 1847, ii. 667; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–9, ii. 202; Roget's History of the Old Water-Colour Society, 1891, i. 168–70; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1797–1844.]

R. E. G.