Hofland, Thomas Christopher (DNB00)

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HOFLAND, THOMAS CHRISTOPHER (1777–1843), landscape-painter, was born on 25 Dec. 1777, at Worksop, Nottinghamshire, where his father was a rich manufacturer of cotton-mill machinery. In his youth he devoted himself to field-sports, his father's wealth relieving him of the necessity of seeking any occupation; but his father, who removed to London in 1790, soon afterwards failed and was reduced to poverty. Young Hofland, who had already practised landscape-painting as an amateur, thereupon adopted it as a profession. After studying for a short time under John Rathbone, he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799 and several subsequent years up to 1805; during this period he resided with his parents at Kew, and as a volunteer there in the king's own company attracted the notice of his majesty, who employed him to execute botanical drawings, and afterwards offered him the post of draughtsman on a surveying ship, which was declined. From 1805 to 1808 he was engaged in teaching at Derby. In 1808 he removed to Doncaster and afterwards to Knaresborough. There he painted much, exhibited at the Leeds Gallery, and visited the Lake district. At Knaresborough he married in 1808 Mrs. Barbara Hoole, the authoress [see Hofland, Barbara]. In 1811 Hofland returned to London, where he resided for a few years in Newman Street, contributing to the support of his family chiefly by making copies of celebrated works in the gallery of the British Institution, and at the same time painting many pictures, chiefly views of the Lakes. In 1814 he gained the British Institution prize of one hundred guineas for ‘A Storm off Scarborough,’ which was purchased by the Marquis of Stafford; and the ‘View from Richmond Hill’ which followed added to his reputation and secured a ready sale for his works. An engraving of the latter picture by Charles Heath was published in 1823. In 1816 Hofland and his wife were engaged by the Duke of Marlborough to prepare a description of his seat of White Knights, the text to be written by Mrs. Hofland and the illustrations engraved from pictures by her husband. This work, which was three years in preparation, was issued privately in 1819 at the time of the sale of the celebrated White Knights library. But Hofland was not only unable to obtain any remuneration for his own and his wife's labours, but found himself burdened with the whole expense of the printing and engraving. These liabilities and anxieties weighed upon him for many years and permanently affected his health. He was compelled to engage much in teaching, but continued to paint with great assiduity, and exhibited largely with the Society of British Artists, the British Institution, and the Royal Academy. His subjects were English, chiefly Lake scenery and views on the Thames, which were charmingly and poetically treated. Among his best works were ‘Windsor Castle by Moonlight,’ ‘Llanberris Lake,’ and ‘View of Windermere.’ In May 1821 he held an exhibition of his works in New Bond Street. In 1840, under the patronage of Lord Egremont, he visited Italy, where he spent about nine months, chiefly at Rome and Naples, working with great zeal though in bad health. For two years after his return he lived at Richmond, and painted some pictures from his Italian sketches for Lord Egremont. He removed to Leamington in 1842 in order to obtain special medical advice, and died there of cancer 3 Jan. 1843. Hofland was a foundation member of the Society of British Artists and one of the originators of the Artists' General Benevolent Fund. He was an ardent lover of angling, and in 1839 published ‘The British Angler's Manual,’ an agreeably written and beautifully illustrated work, of which a second edition, enlarged by E. Jesse, was issued in 1848, with a memoir of the author by his son, Thomas Richard Hofland. The latter, who was also a landscape-painter and teacher of drawing, died in 1876. A view of Hampstead Heath by Hofland is in the South Kensington Museum.

[Art Union, 1843, p. 58; Hofland's British Angler's Manual, 1848; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Ottley's supplement to Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1880.]

F. M. O'D.