Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Prior, Thomas Abiel

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PRIOR, THOMAS ABIEL (1809–1886), line-engraver, was born on 5 Nov. 1809. He first distinguished himself in 1846 by engraving a plate of 'Heidelberg Castle and Town,' from a drawing by J. M. W. Turner, R.A., and under Turner's supervision; it was published by subscription. He next essayed a plate in mezzotint, 'More frightened than hurt,' after James Bateman: but he afterwards returned to the line manner, in which he successfully executed several other plates after Turner. They included 'Zurich,' 1852; 'Dido building Carthage,' 1863; 'Apollo and the Sibyl' (Bay of Baiæ), 1873; 'The Sun rising in a Mist,' begun by William Chapman, 1874; and 'The Fighting Téméraire,' 1886, his latest and one of his best works. He engraved also after Turner, 'The Goddess of Discord choosing the Apple of Contention in the Garden of the Hesperides' and 'Heidelberg Castle' for the Turner Gallery, and 'The Golden Bough' and 'Venice: the Dogana' for the Vernon Gallery. Besides the last two, there are in the Vernon Gallery plates by him of 'Ruins in Italy,' after Richard Wilson, R.A.; 'De Tabley Park' and 'The Council of Horses,' after James Ward, R.A., and 'Woodcutting in Windsor Forest,' after John Linnell. He likewise engraved 'Crossing the Bridge,' after Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., and for the 'Art Journal' the following pictures in the royal collection: 'The Windmill,' after Ruysdael; 'The Village Fête,' after David Teniers; 'Dover,' after George Chambers; 'The Opening of New London Bridge,' after Clarkson Stanfield, R.A.; and 'Constantinople: the Golden Horn,' after Jacobus Jacobs.

During the later years of his life Prior resided in Calais, whither he removed in order to be near his son, who had settled there. He taught drawing in one or two of the public schools, and devoted his leisure time to engraving. He exhibited twice only at the Royal Academy, and never elsewhere. He died at Calais on 8 Nov. 1886.

[Times, 11 Nov. 1886; Athenæum, 1886., ii. 677; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886, ii. 323.]

R. E. G.